If you have a child, you know that they walk the fine line between perfect health and getting injured every day. You do everything in your house to make sure that they are safe. You childproof your outlets and ensure that harmful chemicals are inaccessible to your child. Obviously, they spend a great deal of time at home and you owe it to your child to protect them. Of course, they also spend a significant period of time at school, and you send your child to school five days a week with the expectation that they are safe. But what happens when they get seriously injured while at school?
Sovereign Immunity In Florida
Sovereign immunity is a legal principle that developed in Europe hundreds of years ago. It stands for the principle that you cannot sue the king. Fast forward to the present and many jurisdictions still maintain the idea that you can’t sue the king, where the king has been replaced by the state. Florida, however, is different than many jurisdictions. In Florida, you are allowed to sue the government as a general rule. There are limits placed on the amount of recovery though. For any settlement or judgment over $200,000, the legislature must vote to approve the amount. Since most students are enrolled in public schools, this is an important consideration when children are injured at school. When a child is injured while at a private school, this is obviously not a concern.
What Is A School Liable For?
Kids get hurt. It is a fact of life that skinned knees and bloody noses are going to happen. Typically injuries like this, even if serious, are not going to be a liability issue for a school. Liability shows up when the school behaves in a negligent fashion. There was a recent incident in Palmetto Bay that illustrates the issue perfectly. It was alleged that a 14-year-old student was severely bullied. He was sexually assaulted at one point on a bus trip with the cross-country team and a video was taken and passed around in front of teachers. Later, he was severely beaten and seriously injured to the point where he had a ruptured testicle and ligament damage in his hip. His parents sued the school for the negligent conduct of the school employees in failing to stop the bullying and hold the three accused bullies accountable.
This case is particularly enlightening regarding when schools can be held accountable. If the boys had sexually assaulted the student and the teachers or administrators had immediately put a stop to it and reported the incident to police, chances are the family could not have sued. This is based on the idea that you cannot hold the school responsible for the actions of a third party. However, the apathy (or perhaps tacit approval) of the teachers and the school makes their actions, or lack thereof, rise to the level of negligence, or even gross negligence, and then liability ensues.
Obviously, schools cannot protect our children from every harm that might come their way. They do have a duty, though, to protect our children from known dangers and to act accordingly if a danger presents itself. The skilled attorneys and professionals at the Law Firm of Fasig & Brooks have been protecting the interests of the injured for decades. If you find yourself or a loved one injured through the fault of a school or teacher in the Tallahassee area, please call us at (850) 222-3232 to set up your free consultation. Your child deserves to be safe while and school and if the school fails in their duty to protect, we will strive to ensure that they are held accountable.