school accident injury claim

As parents, we expect that our children will be safe at school where they are being supervised by teachers and other school officials. However, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that every year in the US, close to 4 million students are injured in school-related accidents. In most such school accidents, it is the negligence of the school staff that is responsible for the injuries our children suffer and it is vital that they be held accountable for the damage they cause.

Legal Viewpoint of a School’s Duty to Your Child

Under the law, schools owe your child a duty of care. This means that they are obliged to do everything they can to ensure your child is protected from any foreseeable form of injury, harm, and death. In order to meet this obligation, they have to provide adequate supervision of children in the school building, on the grounds, in the school buses, and even on any premises where the children are engaged in a school-sponsored extracurricular activity.

When any school official fails in their duty to act in a responsible manner to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in their care, the situation is considered negligence. Generally, a school that is guilty of negligence is held responsible or liable for the damage that has been caused to a child in their care.

When parents seek damages from the school, it could include compensation for the cost of medical treatment the child had to receive, the out-of-pocket medical expenditure, and the pain and suffering the child has had to undergo due to the school’s negligence. In case a school accident in New York City leaves a child with a permanent disability, they may also seek damages for future medical expenses and the loss of future wages.

School injuries may be of the following types:

  • Slip and fall accidents that occur when a child loses balance on a slippery gym floor or due to snow or ice or missing handrails on stairs
  • Sports injuries that occur when your child is hurt due to the poor condition of sports equipment, or due to insufficient supervision or poor quality of coaching at the school
  • Playground injuries that are a result of faulty play equipment or poorly maintained school grounds or due to a lack of adult supervision
  • School bus accidents that are caused by buses in poor condition or due to driver error
  • School crossing injuries that arise when crossing guards are not vigilant enough to ensure that children are protected at intersections and streets near the school
  • Injuries due to bullying at school or due to being in a fight with other kids on the playground or in the school bus
  • Food poisoning is caused due to improper preparation or storage of food in the school kitchens

What Are The Types of School Injury Claims in New York?

When the school authorities fail to provide adequate care and protection to the children in their care, they may face one of the following types of school accident injury claims.

  • Negligent supervision claim if children get injured due to lack of adequate adult supervision
  • Gym injury claims if a slippery gym floor or faulty gym equipment caused injuries to a child
  • Student-on-student assaults that occur when physical fights break out on campus
  • Street crossing accident claims that arise when crossing guards fail in their duty of supervising safe crossing of students
  • School bus accident claims if students suffer injuries in the school bus or at the bus stops

How Can You Pursue a School Accident Personal Injury Claim in New York?

If your child has suffered an injury at school, you are entitled to pursue a personal injury claim against the concerned New York public school. If a school teacher or staff member has committed a malicious or heinous or wanton act such as sexual misconduct or assault against a child, they may be sued individually.

However, in other cases of school injury that occur in public schools, the school administrator or principal or teacher, or coach cannot be held liable individually for any injury the child may have suffered on the school premises or at an event sponsored by the school.

If you wish to pursue a school injury claim for the injuries your child has sustained, you will need to take the following steps. It is important to understand that these guidelines apply only to lawsuits brought against public schools and not private ones.

Step 1: Within 90 days of the incident, serve the “Notice of Claim” document on both the City of New York and the Department of Education of the City of New York.

Serving this notice involves completing a lot of complex paperwork as per strict guidelines and any error may cause your claim to be rejected. Having a competent NY school accident lawyer to handle the legal proceedings is the wisest step you can take.

Step 3: Following your serving of the notice, you (or the child if they are old enough to testify) will be asked to appear for the “50-H Hearing” interview. In this interview, there is an explanation of your claims against the Department of Education and the City. In some cases, the school district may stipulate an examination of the child’s injuries by a physician it specifies.

Step 4: After the 50-H hearing, the school district is given a month’s time to propose a settlement. After this period, if there is no settlement that is reached, the parents can go ahead and file a lawsuit which will then proceed as any other lawsuit and such cases generally appear in the Supreme Court located in the borough where the concerned school is located.

New York’s statute of limitations for school district lawsuits is one year and ninety days from the date of occurrence of the accident. Based on the nature of the case and its complexity, school injury claim cases may take anywhere between one to three years to reach trial or a stage of settlement. Make sure you have a competent New York school accident personal injury attorney on your side to pursue a strong case for damages against the at-fault parties.

What is the Prudent Teacher Doctrine in NY School Injury Cases?

When a parent files a school injury claim, the courts use the ‘Prudent Teacher Doctrine’ as a guide to determine if the teacher was negligent and therefore liable for the school accident injuries the child suffered. Under this, a few important factors are considered to check if there were systems in place to avoid foreseeable injuries.

This includes an evaluation of whether the school officials or teachers were aware of any existing dangerous condition that could result in an injury. The school’s overall plan for student protection and supervision as well as the teacher’s actions to provide adequate care or to prevent damage are examined.

Who Is Responsible for School Bus Accidents in New York City?

Besides injuries that occur on the school premises, children are also likely to get hurt during accidents involving the school bus in which they travel. If the accident was caused due to a driving error by the school bus driver, the school can be held liable for the injury a student sustained.

The other driver who was party to the accident because they were speeding while crossing a school zone or because they ran through a red light can also be considered responsible for the accident. If the NYC school bus accident was caused due to a mechanical fault with the bus, the bus manufacturer or the entity responsible for its inspection and maintenance may be considered liable for the accident.

Get in Touch with a New York School Accident Attorney Today

When you send your child to school, it is with implicit trust in the school’s systems to ensure your child is safe with them. When this trust is broken through your child’s injury at school, or in the school bus, it is vital that you hold them accountable for the damage they have caused.

Pursuing school accident injury claims is quite different from any other type of personal injury claim. Most parents cannot have access to the resources necessary to prove that the school was directly responsible for the injuries their child suffered. Public schools are government agency and such bodies and their employees enjoy certain types of immunity from being sued.

However, despite the special time limits and procedural requirements of such cases, pursuing such claims is not an impossible task. Having an experienced and competent school accident lawyer on your side can make a huge difference to the compensation you are able to claim.

The school accident attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP have helped several parents whose children suffered injuries at school and in the school bus to recover the compensation to which they are entitled. To explore how we can help you do the same, call Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP today at 1-800-660-2264 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.

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