June 2021 —
The MLO Minute: By Dennis McAndrews, Esq. and Heather Hulse, J.D., M.S., M.A. —
Children suffer a wide variety of injuries in schools. Some injuries, such as falls or accidents in school-owned vehicles, are common. Some others, which are more disturbing such as child abuse, are less predictable, and may be hidden from parents for years. Too frequently, parents might be reluctant to explore liability on the part of public, charter, or private schools for injuries sustained by their child while at the school or at school functions. Some attorneys are unwilling to even explore injury cases in public schools due to the relatively broad, but not total, legal immunity of public schools from injury cases. However, over the course of our nearly four decades of representing students and their families, we have developed a level of expertise in addressing school-based injuries which is extensive and particularly valuable to children and their families. We have resolved cases totaling many millions of dollars in such injury cases on behalf of children in school-related matters.
In too many cases, parents, and sometimes less experienced attorneys, believe nothing can be done to obtain reimbursement for injuries to students in various schools. To the contrary, we are keenly aware of, and frequently utilize, exceptions to immunity of public schools for injuries sustained by students. Some of these exceptions include injuries to children with disabilities which can be subject to liability under federal law where state-law immunity protections do not apply, as well as exceptions to that immunity such as injuries on school-sponsored transportation or as a result of a defective physical state of the property (such as where a gymnasium does not have proper padding on walls where collisions can occur). Moreover, and of particular significance, private schools do not enjoy the same immunity from lawsuits that are involved in public schools, and our firm has pursued many injury cases where private schools have negligently supervised or trained staff, or have improperly cared for students, both with and without disabilities.
Our initial consultation in injury cases is always free, and these matters are handled on a contingency basis without hourly fees charged to families. We look forward to discussing any injury matter with you.