Schools are reopening throughout New York State after the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered them earlier this year, and this is good news for parents and children looking forward to the new year getting underway. However, even as one more aspect of life returns, you may still be worried about the implications of your child being around many other potentially infected individuals. Even though the New York City Department of Education has developed a plan for health and safety, there is always the possibility that your child could contract COVID-19 at school.
The thought that your child may be in danger for simply going to class is disturbing, especially when you trust the school district, administrators, and teachers to protect him or her. Fortunately, you do have legal options under state law, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can trust our New York school injuries lawyer to handle the details, but some information may be useful.
Overview of School Injuries and Parents’ Rights: When you send your child to school, you are trusting teachers and other school officials to be accountable for his or her safety. These parties have a duty to ensure that your child is protected from harm, by taking all precautions that are reasonably necessary. In the context of COVID-19, the school’s legal obligation extends to following guidelines established by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The failure to do so may be an indication of negligence, for which you may be able to seek compensation.
However, you should note that your legal options as a parent do not end with COVID-19. There are many other types of negligence that can result in injury-causing accidents at school, such as failure to implement reasonable measures for safety:
- In classrooms and labs;
- During gymnasium activities and on the playground;
- In proximity of the bus and parent pick-up area; and,
- Many other spaces.
The Legal Process When Pursuing a Government Body: When you are claiming that a government entity was responsible for causing injuries, the legal process requirements are slightly different than when dealing with a private party. You must file a Notice of Claim within 90 days after the cause of action arises, meaning the clock starts to run on the day your child is diagnosed with COVID-19. If you fail to comply with the deadline, you could lose your right to sue, though there may be circumstances that allow for late filing.
In your Notice of Claim, you must include:
- Names and contact information of the parties;
- The nature of your claim;
- Details regarding your claim and how your child contracted COVID-19 at school;
- The amount of damages you have sustained; and,
- Any other relevant information.
Once you file the Notice, the government has 30 days to investigate; during this time, you are prohibited from filing an official lawsuit in court. It is possible that school officials will make an offer to settle your claim, but you may need to initiate litigation if negotiations stall. As such, you must file the lawsuit within one year PLUS 90 days after your child was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Count on Our New York School Injuries Attorneys for Legal Help
If your child suffered an illness or injury because of careless acts by school officials, you need a lawyer who has experience with negligence claims, child injuries, AND pursuing a governmental agency for compensation. Our team at The Mandel Law Firm has you covered, so please contact our Manhattan office by calling (646) 770-3868 or going online. You can set up a free consultation with an attorney who can explain your rights and legal remedies.