Filing A Personal Injury Suit Against Your Child's School For Bullying? Four Things You Should Gather
If your child was hurt by a bully at school and you've been thinking about filing a personal injury claim, there are a few things that you need to do right away. Whether you're filing suit against the school, the other child's parents or both, you'll need to reach out to a personal injury lawyer for support. In addition, you'll want to start gathering the evidence necessary to support your claim. This part is important, because you won't have a case if you can't prove negligence or direct liability. Here's a look at some of the things that you should include in your evidence packet that you supply to the attorney.
The first thing you should do is to request a copy of the school's printed policies for dealing with bullying, violence and accidents. This is important, because you'll need to be able to show that the school was not acting in accordance with their published procedures. In fact, most schools have a zero-tolerance bullying policy in place where they claim to address these things immediately. Any deviation from those policies may be enough to prove some degree of negligence. The courts will evaluate the district codes to determine how the school response is classified, so start there when you're pulling together your evidence.
Student and Administration Files
As a parent, you have the legal right to request a copy of your child's school record in its entirety. You do not, however, have the right to any other student's records. Request a copy of your child's records to see if there is anything on file that details the history of bullying incidents. You'll also want to have your attorney subpoena the other student's records for evidence. This is particularly important if you've filed formal complaints about the bullying in the past and the school hasn't done anything to address it yet.
In addition to files for any students involved, you'll also want to have your attorney subpoena personnel records and other documentation for any member of the administration who was involved in the incident. If your child's teacher, guidance counselor or other member of the administration was involved or witnessed the actions of the bully, those records may be enough to show that they were aware of what was happening and didn't step in. This is a failure on their part, and it violates their responsibility of care.
Photo and Video Evidence
Take pictures of your child's injuries right away after the incident. In addition, you'll want to take more pictures within the next day or two afterward, because it can take a day or so for bruising and swelling to become apparent. The more visual evidence you have of the injuries, the easier it is to prove their existence.
In addition, with the prevalence of cell phones in school, there's a good chance that another student has some form of video or photos of the bully's actions. Ask your child's classmates and friends if anyone has any video or photos of the incident. Check your child's social media accounts and search the online video sharing sites for any possible evidence. Download copies and save links that show any sites where you found the documentation. This is important, because those videos and photos may be necessary for proving that your child didn't start the fight or provoke the other individual.
Statements from Witnesses
Get written and signed statements from any witnesses who were present at the time of the incident. The statements will be necessary for proving exactly what happened. Your attorney may even have some of them come in to give their statements in the office. The statements should detail who started the altercation between your child and the bully. The more specific information the statements include, the better it will be for your case.
For help with your personal injury case, contact a law office like Clearfield & Kofsky.