Who Is Liable for School Violence?

Until an incident gets thrown in our face like Sandy Hook or the Parkland shooting, we like to pretend that schools are the safest places in the world for our children. While that should be true even in an imperfect world, school violence happens. It need not even be on the scale of a school shooting either. Your child could get beaten up or bullied to such an extent that they need medical treatment. There is no question that these instances of school violence need to be addressed, but you shouldn’t be left to pay for medical bills on your own either. Just like with any personal injury case, if your child was hurt on school grounds through no fault of their own, someone needs to be held liable for it.

Searching for Liability

When it comes to liability for school violence, it can come in many different forms. Sometimes, parents of injured children may be able to hold multiple parties liable, but parents need to diligently work with their lawyers as many schools have immunity clauses. While this may mean there are some circumstances where the school and school system are immune from lawsuits, but often there are loopholes in this immunity.

Holding the Parents Responsible

Until the child reaches the age of majority, a parent will always be liable for the actions of that child. For example, if a child brings a firearm to school, their parents can face criminal charges for not storing it in accordance to the law in such a way that the child did not have access without supervision.

Similarly, if their child hurt someone in school, the parents of the injured child may first look to the parents of the other child responsible to cover those injuries. Often these sort of personal injury cases can trigger other side effects such as an investigation by child services to help make sure the violent child is not abused or neglected in the home and they get the help that they need.

Holding the School Responsible

Schools are responsible for keeping your children safe. That means they need to do their due diligence when it comes to supervision. Moments of violence are in breach of that agreement to keep your children safe. However, most schools hold a certain degree of immunity from lawsuits for violence. If a student attacks your child out of the blue, the school can’t be held responsible for that.

However, there are a variety of circumstances that will nullify that immunity. First and foremost, if a student or group of students have been bullying the victim, it is only a matter of time before it escalates. If this is true, the school could have predicted a violent outcome and did not take reasonable steps to intervene. As they could have prevented violence, but didn’t, they can be held liable.

Second, if your child was the victim of any kind of sexual harassment or assault, then you can sue the school district based on the Title IX law where any school that receives federal funds cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, and sexual harassment is considered sex-based discrimination.

Finally, if your child’s incident of violence was racially or ethnically motivated, you can sue the school under a number of both federal and state civil rights laws. This often falls under Title VI laws that states any school that receives federal funding cannot discriminate based on race, color, or origin. While this doesn’t specifically cite religious discrimination, often that can be included in ethnic-based bullying.

Need Help?

Has your child been hurt in an incident of bullying or any other incident of school violence? Then you need to contact us today. You shouldn’t be paying for medical bills for an injury that should have never been allowed to happen.