Eye surgery and permanent damage?

by Angela
(Austin, Texas)

My 9 year old son got shot in the eyeball by another student with the tip of the pencil using a rubber band. He had to have surgery to put the eye back together since it was badly cut. He could have lost his eye, but he was lucky he didn't.

His vision won't be the same in that eye. He's been in pain through all of this. It's been very traumatic for him, not to mention the surgery and permanent damage. Who is responsible for this? What should we do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Eye surgery and permanent damage?":

Angela (Austin, Texas):

There may be two parties liable for your son’s injuries and resulting damages...

First - The school may be liable if you are able to prove they were negligent in their supervision of the child who injured your son. If the teacher or school staff knew the boy who injured your son had injured students before, or had a propensity for aggressive behavior, and the school took no action to better supervise or remove him from class, then the school may have been negligent.

Second - Parents can be held responsible for the acts of their children. This includes liability for injuries their children inflict upon others. Even if the student had no bad intentions when using the rubber band to propel the tip of the pencil, his actions were the direct and proximate cause of your son’s injuries.

Some injuries can be handled without legal representation. These include "soft tissue" injuries such as sprains and strains to muscles, tendons and ligaments, minor bruising, cuts and abrasions, minor burns, and the like.

Your son’s injuries are not soft tissue. Instead, they are referred to as "hard injuries." Hard injuries can include fractures, deep gashes often requiring stitches and scarring, 3rd degree burns, head trauma, eye trauma, and any permanent injury.

Hard injures should never be handled without legal representation. Because of the serious nature of your son’s injuries and the precedent it would set for the school if they agreed to settle an injury claim with you, the school will very likely not accept liability.

This doesn't mean your should not pursue your son’s injury claim against the school. However, pursuing an injury claim against the school and/or the student's parents will require an experienced personal injury attorney. There is just too much to lose in serious cases like your son's.

For example, the school is not required to release copies of complaints filed by other parents, other incidents of aggressive behavior, surveillance videos, and other evidence which could help support your claim of school negligence. However, if necessary, an experienced attorney will be able to subpoena these items.

Moreover, the attorney will be able to negotiate from a position of strength, especially because he (or she) can file a lawsuit if necessary to pursue your son’s injury claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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