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Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

How to Prove a School Negligence Case in New York

Jonathan Cooper
Employment Litigation and School Negligence Lawyer

If you were wondering what you need to prove before your child’s school can be held responsible for her injuries, you’ve come to the right place, because here’s a short, two-minute guide that should set you on the right path to gathering the evidence you will need.

In truth, these cases are often rather difficult, and here’s why: getting the proof you need is NOT EASY.

NOTICE

First, assuming that there was a dangerous condition, be it a defective playground surface, or an ongoing threat to your child, you will need to show that the school either knew, or should have known, about this threat, yet didn’t take the necessary, appropriate actions and in a timely fashion, to prevent the incident from happening. In legalese, we lawyers refer to this as “notice.”

As a result, one type of case that is often dismissed by the courts is where the incident occurred suddenly, without warning, such as where one student pushes another student down – and there was no history of that student acting aggressively beforehand. In those cases, chances are you won’t be able to prove that the school was negligent.

DID THE SCHOOL CAUSE OR CREATE THE CONDITION?

There is another, albeit rare, way you can prove that the school was negligent: where the school actively created the dangerous condition. One example of this would be where the school negligently installed playground equipment that didn’t meet the necessary safety requirements.

PROXIMATE CAUSE

Once you have established that the school was negligent, you still have another hurdle to clear: was the school’s negligence one of the reasons that your child was hurt? (Yes, it is entirely possible that a school can be negligent, but that the negligence really had nothing to do with why your child was hurt).

DAMAGES

The last prong you will need to prove is damages, or, in other words, what harm did your child suffer as a direct result of the school’s negligence?

Bear in mind, it is probably not worthwhile to bring a lawsuit over a little “boo-boo.” It’s not cost-effective, and neither the court nor a jury will appreciate having their time taken up over a nuisance-value injury.