Does Sovereign Immunity Shield your Public School from Lawsuits?

 

When you send your child to school – or even when you visit to volunteer or for a – your thoughts are a million miles away from the possibility of injury. Unfortunately, accidents and incidents happen all the time, and sometimes they result in significant expense or trauma. Unlike injuries that occur on private property, schools and other government or municipal agencies are often able to avoid civil lawsuits for premises liability because of a legal protection called sovereign or governmental immunity.

Sovereign immunity generally applies to state and federal agencies, while agencies that are more local, such as city or county organizations fall under the auspices of sovereign immunity, but these protections vary by location, as well as by the level of negligence involved and other factors. If you or your child has been hurt on school grounds and you believe that negligence was involved, the best way to determine whether sovereign immunity shields your public school from lawsuits is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Public schools are generally considered a part of the local government, and as such, they often fall under sovereign immunity protections. However, this is not always the case. There are exceptions made based upon what type of incident has occurred and the degree of negligence that was demonstrated. Some schools protect themselves and their school community by purchasing insurance policies for specific types of accidents. Similarly, when circumstances indicate that an accident was a result of gross negligence, sovereign immunity may be waived and the school can be held responsible. These rules are dependent upon the state in which the school is located.

Even assuming that the specifics of your injury or accident allow the school to be subject to a liability claim, for a lawsuit against the government to be successful,  specific and speedy actions are required. Claims against government agencies generally require additional documentation as well as meeting expedited deadlines for notification of your intent to sue. These extra steps make it all the more important that you have representation by a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who knows exactly what agency requires notice and how much time they have available: the slightest mistake or delay in the process can make you ineligible to file for the compensation that you deserve.

Whether your accident has taken place on school grounds or on private property, premises liability cases are generally questions of whether those responsible for maintenance and safety acted responsibly and showed an appropriate level of care for those who come onto the property. When incidents occur on school grounds, the lack of responsibility generally has to rise to a level beyond what would normally be required in other settings.

If you believe that school authorities or their staff were extremely negligent and could have taken steps to avoid what happened to you, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against them. To have a knowledgeable attorney assess your case, contact Wallace Law today.