School Injury Claims in Kentucky
When a student is injured in a Kentucky school or at a school sponsored event or in the course of an extracurricular activity, the student may have the ability to pursue a personal injury claim. Teachers, Bus Drivers, Principals and other school administrators have responsibility to protect the children that are under their care.
Certain protections are in place for teachers and other school employees in some situations. Sovereign Immunity is a legal concept that provides a defense to allegations of negligence against teachers, principals, etc. However, in Kentucky, those entrusted with students must act in good faith and must obey the rules, statutes, regulations, policies, etc that have been put in place to protect students. In a situation where an injury occurs as a result of a teacher or other school official breaking the rules or not acting in good faith, a claim may be pursued.
Policies and rules are set by statute, boards of education, principals and by Site Based Decision Making Councils (SBDMs). Common areas of concern include bullying, proper supervision, extracurricular activities and bus incidents.
On the issue of Sovereign Immunity, Kentucky Courts have held that there will be no immunity for negligent performance of ministerial acts (e.g. following rules, policies). Sovereign Immunity is more likely a viable defense where a teacher or principal is acting with discretion. Discretionary actions are often protected, even when an injury occurs.
Teachers, administrators and faculty also have a duty to take reasonable steps necessary to prevent foreseeable harm to students. Knowledge of a potentially dangerous situation cannot be ignored. Staff and administrators stand in the shoes of the parents where students have been entrusted to their care. All employees, according to certain Board of Education policies, must report any observed unsafe hazards so that reasonable steps can be initiated to remedy the situation.
In cases that allege negligent supervision, the regulations, rules, policies and laws must be considered to determine if proper supervision was given. Regulations typically establish rules such as not allowing students to roam the halls, not allowing students to leave the building and never leaving students unsupervised.
Bullying cases evaluate responsibility associated with teachers, staff, administrators and principals and whether they knew or should've known that a student was a threat or a potential threat.
Students can be injured on buses or as they get on or off buses. Injuries can occur as a result of the driver's negligence in an auto accident or even because of something that happens on the bus.
There are often different standards and rules based upon the age of the student. For example, the Kentucky Courts have expressed the opinion that, due to the adventuresome nature of teens, teachers must be on notice not only of the expected but also the unexpected. Kentucky Courts have also stated that a teacher who negligently supervises can be held liable for injuries resulting from that negligent supervision.
Site Base Decision Making Councils are also required to follow policy, create policy and act in good faith. The Kentucky Revised Statutes establish SBDM duties to create policies to ensure the safety and well being of students. More specifically, SBDMs are to create Comprehensive School Safety Plans and specific policies regarding extracurricular programs and policies related to supervision.
If your child was injured at school or at a school sponsored event or an extracurricular activity you are welcome and encouraged to contact a Kentucky school injury lawyer. The law firm of Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC handles school negligence cases and school injury cases. Feel free to call Brett at (502) 242-8877.