My son was punched in the face by another student in a classroom. My son reported to me after this incident happened that this same student had been stabbing him with pencils in his legs over a period of several months. My son sat behind this other student. My son has made his concerns known to the teacher who ignored the ongoing problem other than to separate the two of them in terms of seating arrangements. The school called me to come pick up my son because he was 'slapped'. I wanted to talk with a school official but they were 'too busy.' I found out this student was suspended for 3 days. He has a prior suspension for assault on another student that happened 6 weeks ago. My son has a broken jaw in two places. Who is liable? My son might need his jaw wired shut. Suggestions?
If the school is a public school, you will need to first file a government tort claim within six months of the incident.
Consult with a personal injury attorney. Most likely, the parents of the responsible student should pay for medical expenses. However, the school might also have liability if the school knew about the responsible student's propensities. Here, you state that the same student was previously suspended.
It is well-established that a school has an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to protect its children. (M.W. v. Panama Buena Vista Union High School Dist. (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 508, 517.)
Liability for lack of supervision or inadequate supervision attaches where the absence or inattention of a supervisor leads to an injury that otherwise would not have occurred. (J.H. v. Los Angles Unified Schol Dist. (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 123, 143-44.)
The standard of care imposed upon a school is that which a person of ordinary prudence, charged with comparable duties, would exercise under the circumstances. (Jennifer C. v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist. (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 1320, 1327.) The scope of the duty is determined by foreseeability of that type of injury occurring in the absence of adequate supervision or other safeguards.
Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California only. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.
If the school officials knew about the assailant's violent propensity and the likelihood that he may attack your son, but did not take sufficient precautionary measures, they can be found liable. You should immediately consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.
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