Whether or not you can sue if your child was injured at school depends on whether the school is public or private.
If you are thinking of suing your child’s school, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer about your situation first. The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. can go over the facts with you and help you decide whether suing the school is feasible. Call us today at 404-474-0804 for a free consultation with an attorney.
Can I Sue If My Child Attends Public School?
The law considers public schools part of the government. In Georgia, sovereign immunity covers the government and its employees, which means you can only sue the school in two situations:
- It permits you to do so
- There is a law allowing lawsuits for something specific
In Georgia, sovereign immunity refers to the legal principle that the state and its government agencies are immune from certain types of lawsuits and legal claims. This immunity generally means that the government cannot be sued without its consent.
Overall, sovereign immunity is an important legal principle in Georgia that can impact individuals seeking to bring legal claims against the state or its agencies, including public schools.
However, sovereign immunity does not protect public employees from every lawsuit. If employees at your child’s school did something deliberately to harm your child, left children unsupervised, or failed to keep the school environment safe, you may have grounds for a claim.
You can also sue if school personnel are guilty of sexual misconduct, discrimination against your child, or allowing other students to bully or harm your child.
Additionally, you can sue the district for any injuries your child sustains on a bus. Under Georgia law, sovereign immunity does not apply to government vehicles, including public school buses if liability insurance covers them.
If you decide to sue, move quickly. You only have six months to a year to file your notice of claim. A lawyer can tell you more about this notice requirement. If you do not send the notice or let the deadline pass, you lose your right to sue.
If Your Child Is in Special Education
If your child is in special education, you may have another option for suing the school. Each child in special education has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that spells out exactly what the school must do for them.
Under federal law, an IEP is a legally binding contract that you and your child’s school agreed to follow. Failure to follow the IEP is grounds for a lawsuit. Check your child’s IEP to see if failure to follow it caused your child’s injury. You may also find talking to a lawyer helpful.
Can I Sue My Child’s Private School?
Private schools only have sovereign immunity if they get money from the federal government, which means it is often easier to sue a private school. You still must prove that the injury was the school’s fault or the fault of a teacher or staff member.
If you are suing a private school, you have two years to file your claim starting on the day your child sustained the injury.
Actions or Inactions That May Justify a Lawsuit
For either public or private school, here are some things that may be grounds for a lawsuit:
- Your child suffered an injury while school personnel left her unsupervised.
- Another student hurt your child and the school failed to prevent and/or stop it.
- Your child sustained an injury because the school building, equipment, or grounds were in poor or dangerous condition.
- School personnel injured your child deliberately or through negligence.
- The school punished your child harshly or unusually.
- Your child suffered physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
- Your child suffered injuries on the bus or another school vehicle.
- Your child got food poisoning at school.
Whom Should You Sue for the Injury?
As always, it depends on the facts of your case but in general:
- You might be able to personally sue an individual teacher or staff member if their actions (or lack of action) caused injury to your child.
- You may be able to sue the school principal or administrator if she is to blame.
- You may be able to sue the school bus driver.
- You might be able to sue the manufacturer or installer of equipment if faulty equipment caused the injury.
- You may be able to sue a contractor or repairman if they were working at the school and failed to ensure the safety of students.
- You may be able to sue the parents of the student who bullied or hurt your child. You may be able to file criminal or delinquency charges against the student, depending on what happened.
- For food poisoning, it depends on what or who caused the food to go bad. Depending on the circumstances, you might sue:
- The cafeteria worker who prepared the food.
- The company that sold the food to the school.
- The delivery truck company if it did not store the food properly before and during transit.
- The freezer or refrigerator manufacturer if faulty equipment is to blame.
- The supervisor in charge of making sure equipment worked properly.
If you cannot sue individuals, you may need to sue the school or school district to recover the compensation you need.
Talking to a Lawyer Can Help
We know how hard it is to see your child injured. And you can — and should — hold any involved parties liable for her injury. But remember, every case is different and has its own complications. The facts of your case determine will determine what option is best for you. The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. can evaluate your case for free and help you hold the school or any other parties liable for your child’s injury. Call us at 404-474-0804.