I just came across a well-written blog post from fellow attorney Michael Helfand based out of Illinois, who notes that it is nearly impossible to hold a school accountable for its actions (or inactions) in caring for our children, because the schools in that jurisdiction are effectively immunized against liability by their local laws. More specifically, as Helfand notes, "to sue a public school in Illinois you have to show 'willful and wanton neglect.'  In plain English that means that general negligence isn’t enough to win, but instead you need to show that the school did something intentionally or with reckless disregard."


But that is not the rule in New York.


While winning a negligence case against a school in New York is, generally speaking, not an easy task by any means, the standard of proof required of the plaintiff is far less demanding than Illinois'. As set forth in "How to Prove Your School Negligence Case Under New York Law," the plaintiff is required to prove that the school knew, or should have known, of a dangerous condition (or actively created the condition), yet failed to remedy the situation in a timely manner, and that failure was a substantial factor in causing the student's injuries. In other words, the courts are obiged to apply standard negligence principles to the schools rather than requiring the plaintiff to meet the heightened evidentiary burden of showing that the school acted intentionally or with reckless disregard.

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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