A lawsuit filed in December 2019 claims a 9-year-old girl in the Sumner County school system suffered from sexual abuse by another student. While specific details such as names of the parties involved and the amount of compensation being demanded are being withheld except in official proceedings and reports, it’s known that the prosecution is insisting the school implement appropriate policies, training and proper observance of Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville, and the Sumner Board of Education is denying the allegations. According to their statement: “[We are] aware, and disappointed, that this family filed a lawsuit, and [are] prepared to defend the case and will respond more fully in court.”
While this case has yet to be decided, it brings up the issue of when can a school be held liable if injury or harm befalls one of its students?
Negligent supervision at school
The first approach personal injury lawyers will likely take in circumstances similar to the Sumner County case is investigating any evidence of negligent supervision. When a child is injured anywhere on a school’s property during school hours, whether by horseplay, abuse or injuring themselves during recess, the school could be held liable if teachers were distracted or not enforcing safety rules.
Negligent supervision is one of the most common torts in a Tennessee injury case because it can apply to almost any school accident.
Riding the bus
As with teachers and staff, bus drivers and bus monitors are also responsible for student safety in Tennessee. They must make sure students’ behavior isn’t causing any injuries to other students.
A Tennessee school can’t be held liable for a gym injury unless negligence caused the accident. Students voluntarily assume the risks of gym class when they participate in class activities.
Schools assume responsibility for ensuring safety measures while students cross the street by way of crossing guards, and they can be held liable for negligence if the student is injured.
A student who is tripped, punched, slapped, beaten up or deliberately harmed by another student can be grounds for filing a lawsuit against the school for several reasons — the biggest being negligent supervision. The school staff has a duty to the students to provide a safe environment, and when they fail to do so, the school can be held liable.
Injuries as a result of a sport, such as a concussion from being tackled in football, can’t be used to file a claim because the student voluntarily agrees to play and assume the risk of injury. However, if the student is injured because of poor supervision, inadequate maintenance or faulty equipment, the school or company that manufactured the equipment could be held liable.
An experienced Tennessee attorney can help
If your child has suffered from a personal injury at school, the personal injury attorneys at Gilreath & Associates will review your case during a free consultation. We will help determine if you have evidence to file a lawsuit. Our commitment and compassion means we will treat your case with the time and attention it deserves so you can have peace of mind.