When a child goes to school in New York, the child’s parents should be confident that the school is providing their child an education in a reasonably safe environment. Large schools are a microcosm of society, good and bad, but we understand the societal compact that a school’s faculty and staff have a legal duty to protect children under their supervision.
When a child is injured while at school, even if the school or a school employee didn’t directly cause the accident, the school district, and possibly a teacher or an administrator, may be held responsible legally.
But litigation surrounding injuries at a New York public school is often complex because public schools, as part of the government, have certain legal protections. If you question a school policy or educators’ actions on your own, you’ll soon find out how uncooperative school personnel can be.
If your child was significantly injured while attending a public or private school in New York, whether during the school day, on a school bus or at an after-hours activity, you should speak to a New York child injury lawyer at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP. Based in Long Island, our skilled injury attorneys will help you understand your legal rights free of charge. We may be able to help you pursue compensation for your child’s medical expenses and other related costs of the injury.
Our child injury lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience. Attorney Richard Jaffe also has worked as a firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT). He knows what happens when children are injured in accidents and how to document injuries so that a legal claim truly demonstrates the impact of what your child and family have suffered.
Contact our child injury lawyers today for a free consultation. Our accident attorneys provide aggressive and compassionate representation to families like yours in Long Island and nearby areas including Nassau County, Suffolk County and Queens. Se habla español.
Child Injuries at New York Schools Demand Fast Action
Because New York public schools are government entities, school districts and their employees have sovereign immunity from many legal claims. This does not apply to private schools.
In most cases, public school teachers, coaches, principals and other administrators cannot be held individually liable for a child’s injury on school property or at a school-sponsored event. An educator or staff member might be sued for wanton, heinous, or malicious acts, such as assault or sexual misconduct against a student or if their purposeful neglect of assigned duties led to an injury.
To hold a New York public school district liable for a student’s injury, you must file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the accident. A Notice of Claim gives the school system a first opportunity to consider and resolve a claim or deny the claim’s validity.
Within 30 days of a Notice of Claim being filed, the school district should acknowledge the claim and can request a statutory hearing, known as a “50-H hearing,” which requires the claimant to answer questions under oath. The school district may also require that your child be examined by a physician of its choice.
After the 50-H hearing, the school district has 30 days to offer a settlement before you can file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against the school district is one year and 90 days from the date of accident. This is much less than the three years New York allows for most personal injury lawsuits.
There are specific requirements for the contents of a Notice of Claim and to whom it is served, either by personal delivery or by registered or certified mail.
It is best to seek the help of a knowledgeable N.Y. school injury lawyer promptly after your child has been injured at school or a school function. Between dealing with your child’s injuries, futile attempts to get answers from school personnel and maintaining daily life, the time allowed to file a Notice of Claim can pass before you know it. You can’t afford to make a mistake or miss the deadline when preparing or serving a Notice of Claim.
The attorneys at Cohen & Jaffe can move promptly to investigate and document your claim, prepare and file paperwork correctly and protect the rights of you and your child at every turn. We can explore whether individual educators can be held liable for your child’s injury and/or whether a third party, such as a manufacturer, contractor or vendor, has liability in your child’s accident.
Common Injuries to New York School Students
A lot happens in a day at school, despite what your child may say when you ask. A public school student in New York is likely to interact with more people at school than you do on a given day. They are infinite ways a child can be injured at school in an accident, in a fight or some other dispute, or because of their own immature decision-making.
Accidents that lead to child injuries at school can be caused by people’s negligence or intent, or by neglect of the school buildings, grounds and equipment. Typical student injuries that we assist families with are caused by:
- Playground accidents. Children are injured while playing on playground equipment that has not been properly maintained or that was improperly installed. Injuries occur when teachers or other school staff neglect their responsibility to keep children from engaging in improper use of equipment or other risky behavior.
- School bus accidents. Driver negligence, lack of training or bus maintenance issues are typical causes of school bus accidents. School bus drivers are responsible for supervising children as they get on and off the bus to ensure their safety and for stopping fights or horseplay that is too rough.
- Sports accidents. Student athletes assume some amount of risk, but coaches and others must ensure players are reasonably fit and practiced, wear proper protective gear, and compete against players of similar size, weight and age. Coaches and trainers must ensure injuries are treated promptly when they occur and must guard against heat-related injuries.
- Food poisoning / food allergy reactions. School districts can be held liable if cafeteria staff or vendors neglect food safety or cleanliness measures and children are sickened. Teachers and others properly advised of a student’s food allergies must make special needs known and follow established safety protocols.
- Faulty premises maintenance / slip and fall accidents. New York school districts have the same legal responsibility as other property owners to ensure buildings and grounds are safe for visitors by keeping up with maintenance and/or mitigating hazards in a timely manner.
- Assault / violence. Children roughhouse and fight one another, and not every incident rises to the level of a legal complaint. But when a child has been assaulted to the point of injury, liability may apply. School staff have a duty to head off violence that is forewarned or to supervise or segregate students known to be violent.
- Bullying / cyberbullying / cyberstalking. New York anti-bullying laws and regulations require schools to create an environment that is free from harassment, bullying and discrimination and to take prompt action when bullying occurs. New York anti-bullying laws include cyberbullying and cover off-campus conduct. While not all incidents can be prevented, if a child continues to be subjected to aggressive behavior after reporting transgressions to school officials, the school district may be held liable if it cannot show evidence of concrete mitigation efforts.
What to Do If Your Child Has Been Injured at School
You should not be surprised if individuals at your child’s school have few answers to your questions about an incident that left your child injured. By policy, staff may be required to refer you to others, regardless of how far removed others may be from the facts of the situation.
However, after obtaining medical care for your child’s injuries, you should contact the school office and ask who can answer your questions and how to contact them. Then you should contact and question them verbally and follow up in writing to reiterate your questions and their answers, including your unanswered questions.
You should also contact any witnesses to the incident that you can, and record statements from them.
Keep records of the medical care your child receives and your expenses related to the accident and injury, including the costs of prescription and over-the-counter medications, your unpaid leave from work to care for your injured child, hired childcare and travel to doctors.
You should contact a New York personal injury law firm experienced in child injuries and school accidents as soon as possible. At Cohen & Jaffe, we know what you are going through and the steps you need to take to seek compensation for your child’s injury. We return calls within 24 hours, and our team can help you with day-to-day issues such as finding doctors and dealing with insurance companies and creditors.
Contact a Long Island School Injuries Lawyer Today
If your child has been injured while at school or a school-sponsored activity, you may be eligible for compensation but must protect your family’s legal rights. New York public schools are protected by laws that make legal claims against schools, educators or staff complex and impose strict deadlines for filing claims. You will need to contact an attorney right away. The Long Island school injuries attorneys from Cohen & Jaffe can help you seek full and fair compensation for your child’s injury and its impact on your family.
Phone us or fill out our online contact form to set up a free legal consultation and claim evaluation. We can meet with you at your home, workplace, the hospital or wherever you prefer.
For a free legal consultation with a lawyer serving Long Island, call 516-358-6900