School Bullying Liability
A local family is suing the Pinellas County School Board after their son was injured during a middle school gym class.
The family alleges that another student hurt their son in a now-popular form of bullying known as “tapping,” where male students hit or tap each other in the groin, often causing the person who was hit to double over in pain. The incident happened during a gym class and the suit alleges that the school had the responsibility to supervise the students during the class, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.
The increased availability of camera on phone and the popularity of social media have popularized “tapping,” particularly in middle and high schools. The family in this Tampa Bay Area Personal Injury Case says the victim will have diminished capacity to work at age 18 and the entire family has suffered psychological damage. The family also sued the mother of the child who allegedly caused the injury, alleging that she did not teach her child how to behave. Yet the key issue in this Tampa Bay Personal Injury Case is just what obligation the school and its staff have to protect students while they are in custody of the school.
As bullying cases are on the rise, courts have been in between on the issue of school liability – typically leaning on holding schools accountable for more serious injuries and letting others go. A Palm Beach jury awarded $1.7 to the family of a developmentally disabled child they said was raped on a school bus, though the district continues to deny the claims. But a jury in the same South Florida county released the school of liability in another bullying case, even though the student knew he was going to be attacked again, told school officials and school leaders did nothing to stop it.
There is clearly a duty for schools to protect our children. Does it extend to the point where teachers should know everything going on in a middle school gym class with dozens of teen-agers? In many Tampa Bay Personal Injury and Child Abuse Cases, the answer can be yes. While the schools can clearly not be held responsible for the actions of every single student on their campus and every minute, there is a strong duty to provide a safe, structured environment in a public school. The courts have been more severe with the school districts when its employees play active roles in the abuse, as opposed to students, but there are certainly cases where schools have been responsible for the actions of students.
If you think you or a loved one may have a potential personal injury claim in the Tampa Bay area, call Emerson Straw P.L. at 877-428-4177 or set up an appointment for a free consultation with our Tampa Bay injury attorneys.