Suing a School District for Negligence: What You Need to Know

student injured at school - parents suing for negligence

If you’re wondering how to sue a school because your child was injured while under the care and supervision of the school district and it’s staff, the answer — like most areas of negligence law — is somewhat complicated. As experienced personal injury lawyers who are currently handling a Manteca school negligence case, we’ll explain the basics of how to sue a school district.

Why Suing a School is So Complicated

Public schools are government entities, and as such are protected by law. There are exceptions to those laws and under certain circumstances, suing a school district in California is a viable option. But before a lawsuit is filed, there are other courses of action to consider.

Administrative Remedies

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act stipulates that you must “exhaust administrative remedies” before filing a lawsuit. This typically entails filing an administrative complaint against the school, along with extensive documentation supporting your claim of negligence.

It is crucial that you follow the filing guidelines and meet the specified timelines; otherwise, your complaint is likely to be automatically dismissed.

Your complaint will be investigated and an appropriate remedy determined by an administrative agency. If you have medical bills and records from having your child’s injury treated, financial compensation may be included. Other solutions to the problem might include transferring your child to another school, changing school policies, and firing the responsible staff member.

Insurance Claims

Rather than suing the school district, you may wish to file an injury claim against its insurance carrier. In many instances, getting financial reimbursement for your child’s medical bills is satisfactory outcome.

Before you sign any school negligence settlement agreements, be sure to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer and have him or her review your claim. That way you can be sure that your child’s rights are protected and that your settlement amount is fair.

How to Sue a School When All Else Fails

If an administrative remedy or insurance settlement fails to resolve your dispute with the school district, it may be time to file a school negligence lawsuit.

Proof of School District Negligence

If you are suing a school for personal injuries to your child, you will need to prove that negligence was the cause of the injury. There must be evidence that the school owed “a duty of care” and that a breach of that duty was the actual and proximate cause of your child’s injuries. breached the duty of care and that this breach was the actual and proximate cause of your child’s injuries. The burden of proof will lie with you and your attorneys.

School District Liability

Depending on the nature of the accident, it may not be the school alone that is liable. If a faculty member acted outside their scope of employment, they may also be open to lawsuit. If another child was involved in causing harm to your child, the child’s parents may be liable. And in some cases, the teacher or parent is primarily responsible, but the school district may have incurred vicarious liability.

Complaint and Summons

Assuming that the school’s liability can be proven, the lawsuit begins when you (the plaintiff) go to court and file a complaint against the school district (the defendant). The defendant is then served the complaint along with a summons. That begins the process of suing a school.

Get a Qualified School Negligence Lawyer

Determining whether or not you have reasons to sue a school, the right to sue a public a school district, fulfilling the burden of proof and understanding school liability are are some of the complex factors that make it important to consult a personal injury attorney before attempting to sue a school.

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