Who is Liable for School Violence, Bullying, and Other Campus Wrongful Acts?

One of the first considerations involved with filing a lawsuit arising from an injury is to determine who is legally liable. Liability can attach to an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization, such as a school district, fraternity, or other association. In cases of organizational liability, the organization is named as a defendant and would be obligated to pay damages in the event of a finding of liability. For individuals, damages are paid directly by the individual.  In either case, if the organization or individual has insurance, the insurance company may be obligated to provide legal representation and/or the cost of damages up to policy limits.

What Compensation is Available to a Plaintiff in a Civil Lawsuit?

The types of compensation available to a plaintiff in a lawsuit related to school violence or wrongful campus conduct will be dependent upon the damages that have been suffered by the victim (or the victim’s family, in the case of a wrongful death lawsuit).  The following are examples of damages that may be sought; however, these damages will not apply in all cases.  Once we learn about your case, we can advise as to the damages that may be compensable for you.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the injured person; or, in other words, to make the person “whole.”  Compensatory damages can include:

Medical treatment. The cost of medical care from the injury, which can include the cost for treatment already received and for the estimated future medical costs likely to be incurred.

Lost income. Compensation may also include the earnings that a person did not receive as the result of not being able to work because of injuries from the negligent conduct of a defendant.  If the defendant’s negligence resulted in a person experiencing a future “loss of earning capacity” (perhaps as the result of a head injury or other permanent injury), the value of the loss in future earnings is also compensable.

Property loss. Compensation for the repair or replacement of damaged property is compensable, such as if a car was totaled.

Pain and Suffering.  Physical injuries subject victims to pain.  The pain may be short-term, such as being slapped in the face in a school assault, or it may be long-lasting and require ongoing surgeries and physical rehabilitation (which could happen in the case of a school shooting).  Victims are entitled to compensation for both past pain that they have suffered, as well as any future pain likely to be suffered. 

Psychological pain and emotional distress. Many types of injuries subject the victim to horrible and ongoing psychological pain and emotional distress, particularly in horrific actions such as campus rape.  As with physical pain and suffering, the victims experiencing psychological pain and emotional distress are also entitled to receive compensation for past and expected future suffering.

Loss of enjoyment of life. Compensation for the loss of enjoyment includes the damages that result when a victim is no longer able to enjoy day-to-day pursuits, like hobbies or other recreational activities, as a result of their injuries.

Loss of consortium /Loss of Services. Loss of consortium (or loss of services) includes loss resulting from the impact that a victim’s injuries or death has on their (or their family’s) ability to interact and have a continued relationship.

Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases

In situations where the defendant’s conduct is deemed outrageous, an injured party may be entitled to receive punitive damages in addition to any compensatory damages. Punitive damages are not intended to make victims whole; rather they are designed solely to punish a defendant for its outrageous conduct, and thereby hopefully deter future outrageous conduct in the future.

Wrongful Death Claims

When a death results from wrongful conduct of another person or entity, the victim’s next of kin or the representative of their estate may bring a wrongful death lawsuit.  Wrongful death lawsuits usually seek compensation for lost future wages by those financially dependent upon (or otherwise entitled to) such damages, as well as lost companionship, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and other damages. Immediate family members of the deceased are normally eligible to receive compensation through a wrongful death; however, there are many considerations and requirements concerning wrongful death lawsuits.  Upon meeting with you we can explain these considerations and requirements and can advise you as to whether you are able to bring a wrongful death action.

How Our Firm Helps

 Please call us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your rights if you or a loved one has been the victim of a school-related crime or incident, such as assault, rape, or bullying.  Once we learn about your case, we can provide you with an honest assessment of your mater, information about the damages to which you may be entitled, and your legal rights for seeking compensation. We normally accept personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis; if your case is accepted on this basis, you will not owe us any fees unless and until we are able to recover a settlement or trial verdict for you.

103 W. Seneca Street, Suite 301
Ithaca, NY 14850
Telephone: (607) 272-5590
Fax: (607) 272-5594

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