Is it Possible to Sue a School District?

June 9, 2017

shutterstock_340122083.jpgIn New Jersey, public school districts have immunity against some lawsuits. However, the New Jersey Tort Claims Act allows lawsuits against public entities under certain circumstances, so long as you follow the requirements of the Act. If you have a claim against your child's school district, it is important to see an experienced lawyer quickly for help recovering damages. 

Negligence by a School Employee

At first glance, the Tort Claims Act seems generous: a school district or other public entity is liable if an act or omission of its employee in the course of his or her employment proximately causes an injury. But proximate cause can be difficult to demonstrate; you have to show not only that the employee did something wrong, but also that it was the main reason that the injury occurred. 

If you do prove proximate cause, the Act also limits your recovering damages for pain and suffering unless the injury falls under the Act's strict definition of the injury, which is permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or dismemberment. The extent to which you can recover damages depends on the extent of injuries as well as your ability to demonstrate causation.

Notice Within 90 Days

Under the Tort Claims Act, before you can sue a school district, you must give notice to the district of your claims within 90 days of the injury. After this, the district has six months to review the claim. You cannot file a lawsuit until the six months have passed.

Private Schools Are Different

New Jersey has a vested interest in avoiding lawsuits against school districts and other public entities. The law does not apply to private school districts, so recovering damages against a private school follows the usual rules of suing an organization.

Suing a school district of any kind requires not only legal skill but careful attention to the rules the law creates. If your child has been injured due to the neglect of his or her school district, contact Stern & Stern LLP today to get the recovery you deserve.