Can I sue my child’s school for an injury? If you live in Florida, you need to know how a lawsuit against a public entity like a public school works. Here’s what to know.
You remember what it was like. Playing on the playground with your friends was fun. The gym class was a blast, especially dodgeball, right? Kids got to be kids.
Now that you have kids yourself, though, would you feel comfortable letting them do the same kinds of activities you did? Maybe not. Children are resilient, but even they are not invincible.
Even if your children are not involved in potentially dangerous extracurriculars, they can still get hurt. Freshly mopped floors without a caution sign in sight. Loose handrails on the stairs. The question is, can you hold the school accountable if your child is hurt because of their negligence?
So, can I sue my child’s school for an injury?
Yes, you can. Your child’s school has a duty of care, so if they acted negligently, you can pursue damages against them. One important detail, however, may change how your case proceeds—whether the school is a private entity or a public entity.
If your child attends a private school, you can bring a lawsuit against them directly. The case would follow regular Florida personal injury liability laws. For claims against a public school, things are a bit different.
Following Proper Procedure When Bringing a Claim Against Your Child’s Public School
When your child is hurt at a public school, you must follow certain procedures before you can bring a lawsuit against them. If you don’t follow them carefully, your case could be dismissed.
The first step you need to take is to file a notice of claim against the school district. In this claim, you should describe the incident, the negligent action by the school, the injuries your child suffered, and a request for compensation. You need to act quickly, though, because you only have 60 to 90 days after the incident to file the notice of claim.
After you file the notice of claim, the school will either settle or deny responsibility for the incident. When the school decides not to settle, the case will go to court. It’s important to note that you cannot file a lawsuit until 180 days after you filed the notice of claim. You have three years to file the lawsuit.
How Negligence Can Cause Your Child’s Injury at School
There are many (practically infinite) scenarios in which a school could act negligently, resulting in your child’s injuries. As previously mentioned, premises liability issues, such as wet floors and other unsafe conditions can lead to serious injury. What if another child hurts your child? If there was no supervision or there were unsafe materials present, you could have a case.
The bottom line is this: if you think that negligence caused your child’s injuries, you need to investigate things further.
What Is Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress refers to psychological injuries directly related to traumatic incidents or accidents. Recovery from mental pain can be long and expensive with emotional injuries. For example, if you suffered from emotional pain in school and someone else is responsible, you could file a personal injury lawsuit and pursue compensation.
Symptoms of Emotional Distress
Since each person may experience emotional distress differently, many different symptoms could exist. The most commonly seen signs of emotional distress include:
Anxiety can result in various physical and mental problems for victims, such as inability to concentrate in school, lack of sleep, and panic attacks. In addition, victims of severe anxiety may be afraid to leave their homes.
Guilt and Humiliation
You might feel shame and humiliation if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted. But unfortunately, many victims wrongly blame themselves after the event.
If a serious incident has happened at school, and you or your child feels depressed or suicidal during this time, it could be challenging to find the courage to return. This list of emotions and effects was not exhaustive, and there were many other examples of how psychological injuries impact a victim.
Can Emotional Distress Cause Physical Conditions?
The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that emotional distress can potentially aggravate several physical illnesses, including:
- Coronary heart disease
- Ulcers and other gastrointestinal diseases
- Stomach and body pains
Emotional Distress: Can You Sue a School for Not Protecting Your Child?
Here is the answer to one of the most commonly asked questions, “can you sue a school for not protecting your child?”
Depending on your case and state laws, you might be able to file a lawsuit against your school for emotional distress. People who have suffered physical or emotional harm as a result of the school’s negligence are likely to have a case. However, you might not always reach a successful settlement if you suffer emotional distress. Most states only allow lawsuits to be filed when physical harm is present.
In general, a school has a duty of care for its students, and failure to uphold that duty may expose them to litigation.
Examples of cases that could lead to lawsuits against a school include:
1. Campus Assaults and Attacks
If the school failed to protect you from harassment on campus, you could file a lawsuit. If your rights have been violated and you made a legitimate claim, the university can be liable for damages if its response falls below a certain threshold. For example, a college could be responsible for your damages if:
- The college lacked adequate safety precautions such as fencing, lighting, and gates
- The assailant was a college employee
- College management protected the perpetrator
- The college did not respond to the assault
- In some cases, colleges and universities can be held liable for damages caused to students by third parties.
In some cases, persistent bullying has led to suicides and attempted suicides. If a student spirals into a pattern of constant bullying, school authorities should take notice, but you could sue only if they could have prevented the incidents from continuing.
If a student suffers harm due to negligence at a school, they could be entitled to compensation. One such way this can happen is by suing the school.
4. School Shootings
School shootings have a devastating impact on students, their parents, and the community at large. Even if someone is not physically injured during a shooting at school, students could experience emotional distress and emotional trauma as an aftereffect of witnessing a shooting. In addition, lawsuits for negligence can be filed by students after seeing neglect from administrators, security officers, or other parties.
Need Help Building and Pursuing Your Case?
Can I sue my child’s school for an injury? If you don’t know the answer to this question or if you have a case, let us help you. Get in touch with us for a free case evaluation so we can get to the bottom of your child’s injuries.