Are Schools Liable for Bullying?

Bullying in schools is a serious matter, often leaving victims with long-lasting physical and psychological pain. Intervention to stop bullying can mitigate these consequences for a child in need. We often think of bullying as a matter of one child bullying another. However, in some situations, the school may be liable for ongoing bullying. In these cases, intervening on behalf of a child may require using the legal system to hold the responsible parties accountable. You may be able to sue a school in a bullying lawsuit if school officials failed to reasonably protect your child from harm. Our attorneys discuss more about this legal option below.

When Can You Sue a School for Bullying?

Schools have a legal duty to protect students from known harm. This means that a school’s officials must take reasonable action to prevent bullying when they are aware that it is occurring or might occur. It is important to note that a school has a duty to prevent bullying both on and off campus. When a school fails to take preventative measures, the school, or specific school officials, may be liable for bullying. You may be able to sue a school for bullying when this duty of care is not upheld.

How Can You Prove That a School Is Liable for Bullying?

A successful lawsuit against a school for bullying requires proving liability. Establishing a school’s responsibility for bullying requires showing that the school knew about the bullying or threat of bullying. Then, you must prove that the school did not take reasonable preventative actions in light of this information. Reporting occurrences of bullying or threats of bullying is important to both preventing bullying and protecting your potential claim. You should also document these reports.

What Laws Can Affect Bullying Lawsuits?

Currently there are no federal laws in place that govern school bullying. However, most states have adopted anti-bullying laws and policies designed to protect students. If you believe that your child’s school has failed to uphold these policies, we recommend that you speak with a lawyer. You may have a valid claim to file a private case against the school. In this scenario, the school’s “sovereign immunity” may apply. Sovereign immunity refers to the shielding of government entities from lawsuits. However, the Federal Tort Claims Act allows for some exceptions. Our experienced attorneys will advise you whether your claim is valid under tort law. Special rules and deadlines apply when suing a school for bullying under tort law. For example, you must file an administrative claim to the school before filing a lawsuit. The deadline for doing so will vary by jurisdiction, but can be as short as three months from the time of the incident. The school will then rule on your claim and, if you are unsatisfied with the outcome, you may be able to file a formal lawsuit for damages. You will want to prepare both your administrative claim and lawsuit with an attorney.

Is Your Child a Victim of Bullying? Contact Our Attorneys to Discuss Your Legal Options

There are many effective ways to intervene when bullying occurs. Determining which legal options are best for your child will depend on the situation. Discuss your situation during a free consultation. You can reach our attorneys by phone at (855) 244-2031 or through our online contact form.