child injured while playingWhen someone is injured because of someone else, they can file a personal injury lawsuit to get financial compensation for their injuries, pain, and distress. But the situation becomes more complicated when a minor is involved, and even more so when a minor injures another minor, whether by accident or intentionally.

When both minors were supposed to be under the supervision of a teacher, playground monitor, or coach, it just adds another layer of complication to the problem, which can be made further complicated depending on whether it happened at a public or a private school.

To determine if you can get compensation after your child is injured by another child at school, and who can be held liable, you should speak to an experienced attorney. At Joye Law Firm, our case consultations are always free with no obligation to hire.

That said, this blog will go over a few of the main points to keep in mind about child injuries and liability.

The Parents of the Child Who Caused the Injury

Whether or not parents can be held liable for injuries their child causes to another student may depend on whether it was an accident or intentional, such as in the case of bullying.

In the case of “malicious or willful” harm, parents can be held liable for their children’s actions. However, the amount of compensation parents can be forced to pay when their child deliberately causes injury or property damage is limited to just $5,000 under South Carolina law.

Furthermore, parents can only be forced to pay economic damages, also known as actual damages. In this circumstance, a victim’s family could only recover the cost of their medical expenses up to $5,000, and they can’t sue the other child’s parents for added compensation for pain and suffering.

Parents might also be responsible for their child’s actions under common law if they had reason to believe that their child was dangerous, such as a past history of harming others, but didn’t take action to curb their child’s harmful activities and the child then went on to injure another child.

The Child Who Caused the Injury

Children, especially very young children, generally can’t be held liable for injuries or damage they cause because, in the eyes of the law, someone must be aware that what they were doing was reckless or negligent. And it’s commonly accepted that children can’t be held to the same standard of understanding that an adult can.

Exceptions can be made for older children, such as high school students, who could be expected to understand that what they were doing would or could cause harm to another student.

Minors can also be held jointly liable alongside their parents if the minor would have been considered liable if they had been an adult at the time of the incident.

Because minors usually do not have any or much money of their own, it makes more sense to get compensation from another source after an injury. However, when an injured child’s parents pursue a claim against a minor, it might be possible for them to get compensation from the minor’s parents’ renters or homeowners insurance policy.

The School Where the Injury Occurred

Schools have a legal responsibility to provide a safe environment for students. However, in most cases, whether parents of an injured child harmed by another student can pursue compensation from the school or a school worker depends on whether it happened at a public school or a private school.

South Carolina public schools and public school employees are generally protected from liability, even when there was negligence. This is because public schools are considered governmental bodies, and state laws protect the government from being sued in most circumstances except for gross negligence. That doesn’t mean you can never sue a public school, but it does make it harder.

However, the same isn’t true for private schools, which can be sued normally like you would a negligent business.

Examples of when a school might be held liable for failing to prevent a student from harming another student include:

  • Failing to prevent bullying or assault, but only if they were aware that it was taking place or could have predicted it would happen (for example, a student had made threats against another student before the assault)
  • Providing inadequate supervision to prevent intentional or unintentional injuries (for example, playground monitors failing to stop a child from throwing rocks)
  • Failing to stop sexual harassment when it deprives the victim of equal access to educational activities or programs under Title IX

Each child injury case is unique, and there is no exact checklist that will tell you whether or not your child’s case meets the requirements to be able to successfully hold the school accountable. Speaking to a lawyer about your claim could help determine your eligibility for compensation.

When Things Get Tough, Call Joye Law Firm

One of the most stressful experiences in life is knowing your child was injured, that it was someone else’s fault, and you don’t know how to or whether you even can hold them accountable.

At Joye Law Firm, we make it our mission to help injury victims and their families get the help they need so they can simply focus on their recovery, while we focus on getting them the compensation and justice they need to put their lives right again.

If your child was injured through the intentional or unintentional actions of another student, call our firm today to discuss your next steps.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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