Personal Injury Lawyer Tips Regarding Liability in Student-on-Student Assaults

best-personal-injury-attorney-student-assaultBack-to-School is a busy season for students and parents, but after the initial excitement starts to settle sometimes the tension boils over between students and we unfortunately begin to see the rise in physical and sexual assaults of students by other students while at school.  We all want what is best for the children in our care and physical and sexual assaults should never be tolerated.  When something more than pride is damaged, the assaulter, his/her parents, and the supervising teachers, school officials, school employees, and even the school district may be responsible.  It is necessary to evaluate the situation which is why it is best to speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.  Here are some tips and more details regarding liability in student-on-student assaults to help parents better understand the severity of the situation.

 

Your child has an inalienable right to attend a safe, secure, and peaceful school environment.

A relationship has been established when a parent sends their child to school and the school district oversees all reasonable steps to protect its students.  (Ed. Code § 48200)

Are the premises secure?  In large school campuses there may be dangerous areas away from visibility of faculty and staff where a student may be sexually assaulted or injured.  This may be a dangerous condition of public property.

The following excerpt has been taken from Shaana Rahman’s publication in Plaintiff Magazine, “Establishing School District Liability in Student-On-Student Assaults,” 2010:

Government Code section 840.2 provides that “[a]n employee of a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of public property if the plaintiff establishes that the property of the public entity was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonable foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred, and that either: (a) [t]he dangerous condition was directly attributable wholly or in substantial part to a negligent or wrongful act of the employee and the employee had the authority and the funds and other means immediately available to take alternative action which would not have created the dangerous condition; or (b) [t]he employee had the authority and it was his responsibility to take adequate measures to protect against the dangerous condition at the expense of the public entity and the funds and other means for doing so were immediately available to him, and he had actual or construction notice of the dangerous condition under Section 840.04 a sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.” (Gov. Code § 840.2.)

 

Your child will be supervised on campus in California.

“Every teacher in the public schools shall hold pupils to a strict account for their conduct on the way to and from school, on the playgrounds, or during recess.” (Ed. Code § 44807)

The following excerpt has been taken from Shaana Rahman’s publication in Plaintiff Magazine, “Establishing School District Liability in Student-On-Student Assaults,” 2010:

Pursuant to Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, §5551 a principal is responsible for the supervision and administration of his/her school. Also, section 5552 provides, “[w]here playground supervision is not otherwise provided, the principal of each school shall provide for the supervision by certificated employees of the conduct and safety . . . of the pupils of the school who are on the school grounds during recess and other intermissions.” As many incidents occur during recess periods, this statute is particularly useful in establishing the parameters of the liability. The purpose of the foregoing laws is to regulate students’ conduct “so as to prevent disorderly and dangerous practices which are likely to result in physical injury to immature scholars.”

 

The school has a duty to inform you, the parent or guardian.

Failure to inform the parent/guardian can become compelling evidence of a failure to supervise when the school district claims they failed to inform on the grounds that they themselves did not know of the event(s).  In many cases, this liability gives rise to an independent cause of action and is best handled by a personal injury lawyer for damages to the parent who may now no longer feel safe leaving their child in the hands of any other school or person for fear of their safety.

 

What to ask for

If you have concerns about an incident (or potential incident) at your child’s school, public record act requests have made it possible for you to access the information that will answer many of your questions.  Additionally, you should know that consultations with a personal injury lawyer at RAHMAN LAW PC are free and confidential.  Here are a few resources to ask for that may cover your concerns:

  • School policies on acceptable/unacceptable behavior between students
  • School employee safety training protocols
  • School training manuals/handbooks (which may outline the first two items)
  • Administrative regulations for the city/county (usually covers student safety)
  • Sexual Harassment or “Touching” policy
  • Disciplinary policies
  • Child abuse prevention training and policies

 

At RAHMAN LAW PC, we handle a variety of personal injury cases, but even the best personal injury lawyer in California may not have experience in student liability, which is why the best thing for any parent or guardian to do is start with a free and confidential consultation.  We believe in taking the time to listen to our clients and we know when a child is involved the case is going to be emotional for you.  Contact us today and find out for yourself why we have 10/10 ratings and founder Shaana Rahman was selected as the Best of San Francisco Magazine’s Top Women Attorneys in Northern California.