Although a school district may be responsible for your child and their injuries, filing a lawsuit is not always that easy.
During recess, a child who jumps and runs around, climbs and clambers, and participates in sporting activities is more likely to be injured that a child who doesn’t. Children can be very energetic and active throughout the school day, but when recess comes ‘round they can potentially suffer from more injuries.
Although a school district may do what they can to reduce the likelihood of injuries, accidents can still happen. So if your child is injured how can you make a claim? We’re going to take a look at this now:
Who is Liable if a Child has been Injured?
If a child is injured during recess, an after-school activity, or even in the classroom, it can be hard to determine who is liable. The good news is that even if someone employed by the school did not cause the injuries, the school district may be found liable.
Let’s imagine that another child deliberately tripped your child up in the playground, and your child fell on a rock and injured their leg. You may automatically think that this child is responsible for the injuries, but this may not be the case at all. If the playground had not been cleared of rocks or correctly inspected the school district could be liable. They may also be liable if the child who pushed your son or daughter over was known to be aggressive, yet they were left inadequately supervised, if at all. Please read our article: ‘What is negligent supervision?’ For more information
Now let’s imagine that your child was being taken on a field trip and they were injured in an accident while the bus was taking them to the location. If the accident was caused by someone other than the bus driver the school district may be found liable for the injuries.
If you Think a Public School District is Liable
If you think a public school district is liable for injuries that your child has sustained, you should be aware that you will need to follow specific rules.
– Sovereign Immunity
School districts are known as ‘Political subdivisions’ and have ‘Sovereign Immunity’. This ultimately means that their employees are somewhat immune from any lawsuit. However, all is not lost, states can waive the immunity and allow compensation claims to be made when a school district or one of its employees have caused or contributed to a child’s injury.
The Notice of Claim
You should be aware that there are more procedures that you need to follow before you can file the lawsuit. If you do not follow the procedures your claim may be dismissed.
Lawsuits can vary between states but before a lawsuit can be filed a ‘Notice of Claim’ will need to be filed with the correct state district or the relevant state agency. The notice of claim will need to be submitted in writing and describe:
- The nature of the accident
- The action or inaction of the school district (If relevant)
- The action or inaction of an employee of the school district (If relevant)
- What the child’s injuries were
- How the injuries were caused
The notice of claim will also need to contain a demand for compensation (A monetary figure) so the school district can begin its investigations.
The Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is an important law set by the state that gives every single claimant a specific deadline for filing their lawsuit. Regardless of how your child was injured or what caused their injuries, you need to be aware of your state’s statute of limitations. Each state is likely to have its own statute of limitations so you should check how your case will be affected in your state. Some statute of limitations can be as long as 90 days, whereas others may last just 60.
– If you do not File your Claim on Time
If you fail to file your lawsuit on time the court may dismiss your claim. If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired you may be expected to pay all of the defendant’s court costs. You should also be aware that if you do not file your lawsuit on time your state may prevent you from filing any further lawsuits against the school.
Once you have filed a claim you will need to wait until:
- The claim has been denied by the school district or
- The statute of limitations has passed without the school district responding to your claim
The Notice of Claim Procedure in Different States (Examples)
– New York
In New York, you will need to file your notice of claim within 90 days of the accident occurring. If there has been no response from the school district after 30 days, or they reject the claim, you can take your claim to the New York Supreme Court.
In California, you will need to file your notice of claim within 6 months of the accident. The school district will either reject or accept the claim. If your claim is rejected you can take the claim to the civil courts.
In Florida, you have three years to file your claim in writing to the school district and the Division of Financial Services. You then have 180 days after you have filed the claim to file a lawsuit. If your claim has been rejected before this time limit has passed, you can file a lawsuit.
Please make sure that you know your state’s notice of claim requirements so you do not file it too late. If you think you have a case, please speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can.
If you are currently suffering from a personal injury and are unable to read ‘Can you Sue a School District if your Child has been Injured?’ please watch our Injury Pedia video so you can gain the Personal Injury Information and Answers you are seeking.