You cannot control what happens once your child walks out the door, but you can prepare for the moments when back-to-school safety fails. Every year, we have parents turn to us for counsel after their child is injured due to the negligence of school district employees. Luckily, the negligence lawyers at Casey, Devoti & Brockland are well-versed in these cases and prepared to break down the basics of suing a school district after a severe injury occurs.
Breaking Down the Basics
The public school system is considered an arm of the government — as a result, all school district entities and their employees have certain protections that may complicate an injury case. Generally, there are two large categories that the attorneys at Casey, Devoti & Brockland may pursue on your behalf, including:
- Injuries resulting from dangerous conditions present on the property.
- Injuries involving a motor vehicle, such as a school bus.
Our school negligence lawyers have seen countless examples of conditions that may constitute a personal injury case. Consider a woodworking class involving power tools — without proper safety precautions, such as table saw guards, students may severely injure themselves.
Additionally, any motor vehicles on school premises, whether used for transportation or as props in drama productions, may also pose a risk to students. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1,080 school transportation-related crashes occurred between 2010 and 2019 — leaving countless students injured over the years. Needless to say, buses, lawnmowers and all other motorized vehicles associated with a school must be properly maintained and driven with caution.
Suing a School District or Employee
When suing a school district, the grounds for legal action considered by negligence lawyers may be limited. In Missouri, school districts may claim “sovereign immunity” — meaning the law protects school districts from suit, including those following a personal injury, unless the sovereign has specifically waived the protection. For instance, Missouri statute waives sovereign immunity for injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents and dangerous conditions on school property. Also, federal law removes protection for injuries arising from a violation of a student’s civil rights.
Employees of school districts also operate under “official immunity.” The protection often shields officials from liability as long as the task undertaken by the individual actor required them to use their discretion. Beyond the previously outlined circumstances, public schools must follow certain due process rights — students cannot be detained, disciplined or have their rights taken away without being heard.
Unless your case falls under the exceptions our school negligence lawyers have outlined, suing a school district or a negligent educator or administrator may be out of the realm of possibility. However, a key distinction is the type of school you are pursuing action against. The general rules and limitations for public schools do not apply to private schools. Rather than being limited to the operating entity, you may be able to pursue action against a teacher or administrator just as you would against any other negligent business that caused you injury.
Work with Our Negligence Lawyers
As you move forward with your case, the most important thing you can do is collect information about the incident that injured your child. You will want to know how the injury occurred, who was present and where and how it happened before suing a school district.
With that information in hand, your next step would be to make a report to the appropriate official, whether the dean, principal, teacher or any other school official. From there, talk to negligence lawyers with experience in handling school injuries.
These are not cases we recommend pursuing without effective counsel, as school injuries can be very challenging due to the fine line we need to walk. Furthermore, teachers are sympathetic defendants — as they are often underworked and underpaid, you need an experienced attorney by your side to present evidence tactfully in your favor.