Kids have a known propensity to fool around, sometimes dangerously. Some kids go beyond mere fooling around, and bully or hit other kids. All these childish behaviors are dangerous, which is why God invented adults. Yes, we adults were put here on earth to keep kids from killing and maiming each other! (Unfortunately, some adults are like children, but that’s another story. . . )
When you, as a parent, turn your sweet little Johnny over to the school district to receive his education, you also hand over to the school, to a certain degree, parental responsibilities. The school, in the eyes of the law, steps into the shoes of a parent, which means the school has a duty to provide proper supervision and control of your child and all others. If the school does not properly supervise its students, the school district can be sued and held liable for the harm caused.
But not all harm that befalls your child at the hands of other kids at school can, in the eyes of the law, be blamed on the school. The school is not an insurer of your child’s safety. The school must act responsibly in fashioning sound safety rules, and in supervising its students, and it must ensure that the rules are being implemented by teachers and other staff. But it cannot prevent all injuries caused by other kids, especially unexpected and unforeseeable injuries.
What kind of classmate-caused injuries can you bring a New York school injury case against the school district for? Here are some examples: If a teacher or aid leaves a group of students unsupervised for a period of time, and the students engage in horseplay, or a fight breaks out during that unsupervised period of time, the school might, depending on the circumstances, be held liable for failing to provide adequate supervision. Or if a child has a history of assaulting other kids at school, and the school does not properly discipline or control him, and he then hurts another child, the school district may be held liable. Or if a group of students is allowed to engage in dangerous horseplay, and an accident causes injury to a child, the school district may be held liable for negligent supervision.
On the other hand, if a student suddenly, spontaneously, and without warning, does some foolish act, or takes a swing at another kid, and an injury results, the school probably can’t be held liable. That’s because the law recognizes that no amount of supervision can prevent sudden, unexpected, spontaneous acts of violence or horseplay.
The legal analysis of whether a school district can be held liable for injuries caused by other kids at school is actually a very complex one. Many factors come into play. If your child is injured by another child at school, call an experienced New York school accident lawyer to find out whether you can hold the school liable.
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