We drop our kids off in the morning before work, naturally presuming that school is a safe place for our children, where they’re not at risk to be harmed. Sadly, this isn’t always true. School fights usually start with a few unkind words or a shove, which turn into more shoving and pushing. Most fights don’t go any further than roughhousing, but there are some that get out of hand and, escalate to extreme physical violence.
As parents, we only see the results of the fight. Our child may need therapy, hospital or dental treatment, which add up, but our main concerns usually revolve around who’s at fault for our child’s injuries and how can this be prevented from happening again. Was there proper supervision of students? Is the school liable for not keeping your child safe? What about the other student who instigated and started the fight? Are his or her parents responsible for these actions?
Here are some answers:
According to the legal doctrine of in loco parentis (meaning, “in place of the parent), schools and its teachers take on the responsibility of parents in supervision and discipline once a student gets on the bus in the morning and continues until the child is put back into the care of his parents at the end of the school day. Every school has a legal “duty of care” to protect its students from harm, including using good judgment and appropriate force when needed to stop a fight. These responsibilities extend into school sponsored activities like volleyball games, art club, etc.
A school’s duty of care requires:
- Awareness of bullies, and students prone to violent behavior
- Teachers or other school personnel to intervene before or during a school fight; using reasonable force to quickly break it up as to avoid additional injuries
- Rebuking a violent student and his or her parents with discipline or corrective actions to prevent future incidences
School negligence accounts for any time a school fails in its duty of care, and when this negligence results in the injuries of a student, the child has every right to receive compensation for his or her bills and damages.
Damages include and are not limited to:
- Psychological counseling
- Medications, casts, slings or crutches
- Dental expenses
- Medical bills
- Parent’s out-of-pocket expenses
- Student’s lost wages if he or she works part-time
- Student’s emotional distress, pain and suffering
*But do not include: the pain and suffering of his or her parents*
Student on student assault is a crime, and depending on the severity, a school has the right to call the police to make an arrest. Your child may be given the option to file a police report or have the student who started the fight arrested.
If your child has sustained ‘soft injuries,’ such as bruises, cuts and small bumps, you probably have the ability to file the claim yourself. On the other hand, if they are ‘hard injuries,’ such as scarring, burns, deep cuts and gashes, it’s most beneficial to schedule a free consultation with Parvey & Cavenago to assist you in pursing compensation and overcoming legal roadblocks for your child’s peace of mind and recovery.