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Injured at School? Can You Sue?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

If you've been injured at school, your first thought may be physical recovery. But your second or even third thought should be about your legal options.

You may be able to sue the person who caused your injury, along with school staff and maybe even the school district for the injuries you've incurred, but you'll probably need a bit of legal guidance.

Here's a basic legal primer on being injured at school and a few factors that may affect your potential legal claims:

Who's Responsible?

There is any number of ways to be injured while at school. Usually an accident or intentional injury at school is caused by:

  • Another student. When bullies or other mischievous students intentionally harass or cause physical injury, you may have grounds to sue them. Even if the students are penniless themselves, many states place their parents on the hook for their children's actions.
  • A teacher or staff member. Teachers may be responsible for failing to supervise students, leading to injury, or they may actually be instructing students to cause injury. Whether the cause is inadequate supervision or plain old malice, teachers and staff can be held legally responsible injuries caused by their actions or inaction.
  • The school or school district. Teachers' obligations toward students can be extended to school districts and universities in much the same way that an employer is responsible for his or her employees. It's also possible that negligence in training teachers or drafting school policies led to your injuries.
  • You. Students are sometimes partially responsible for their own injuries while at school, and depending on your state, your own negligence may reduce your chances of legal recovery from other parties.

Your personal injury lawyer may suggest that you sue as many entities as you believe are responsible for your injuries: school, students, teachers, etc. This may sound like overkill, but casting a wide legal net may lead to the greatest possible recovery for your injuries.

Public or Private?

Unlike individuals, companies, and private educational institutions, you often will need legal permission before suing a public school or university.

When suing a government entity like a public school or university, you'll likely need to file a tort claim with the school district, city, or state before you can sue in state or federal court. This typically involves filling out a form; the administrative procedure that follows may take months before you can proceed to sue a public school for your injuries.

Whatever your situation, if you are injured at school, you can always get answers by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney near you.

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