I receive calls every week from parents of injured children in Columbia and throughout our state who want to know what can be done in the aftermath of an accident or assault at school. Under South Carolina law, if your child is harmed while in the care of a public school, the wrongdoer as well as the district, may both be liable.
Attacks By Other Students
South Carolina's children often suffer injury at the hands of other students. When this happens, the school will most likely be held legally responsible if it was "grossly negligent" in its supervision of your child or the aggressor. Gross negligence has been defined many different ways, including the failure to exercise even slight care. For example, if two students are in gym class, and the teacher leaves them unsupervised in order to take a phone call, allowing one student to attack or abuse another, a judge could conclude that the teacher was grossly negligent. Furthermore, if the district was negligent in its hiring of the gym teacher, then the district may also be found at fault. While common sense would tell you that the district would simply want to make right the wrong, gross negligence is almost always disputed, requiring a lawyer to present a detailed legal analysis in order to prevail.
Harm Caused By Teachers & Staff
Sadly, children often suffer harm not only at the hands of fellow students, but also their teachers. As we have all heard on the news, sexual predators at times find their way into schools, inflicting irreversible and unspeakable harm upon our most vulnerable. When abuse occurs, the district must often answer for the reprehensible acts of its employee. School districts, along with their insurance companies, may not escape liability where background checks and warning signs could have alerted the employer that they had a predator on staff.
What Can Be Done
South Carolina law recognizes that in addition to physical damage, childhood injuries often result in mental anguish, lost enjoyment of life, and great suffering. For this reason, our law allows a child and his or her family to recover for these damages in addition to any economic losses such as medical bills.
If you are reading this article, you likely have questions concerning your rights and those of your son or daughter. I encourage you to at least speak with an attorney before having any further interaction with the school or its insurance company. We offer free consultations and are here to help ensure no further harm comes to your family. For answers concerning school accidents and liability, call me today at 803-790-2800.