Is school liable for my son's medical bills after he was assaulted?

by Concerned parent
(Los Angeles, CA)

In October 2015 my son was attacked on the steps of his high school entrance in Los Angeles. The aggressive student was a troubled transfer who'd been there less than 3 weeks. I arrived to the school approx 10 minutes after the altercation. I found my son and his friend in the school office disoriented with faces bruised and swollen.

My son had been knocked out and his head hit the pavement without any break in the fall. His friend who tried to to stop the attack was stomped nearly unconscious. There were No school officials at the school's entrance when this happened, less than 10 minutes after school being let out.

I had to demand for the paramedics to be called as the Assistant principal who was there handling the situation seemed reluctant to do so and didn't take the assault seriously.

The student responsible was charged with assault & found guilty. The school had knowledge of fights being started and recorded with the purpose of uploading them to an Instagram page that was titled 'Hamilton fight page' which was taken down before my son was attacked. My son would come home and let me know there were fights almost everyday at the school.

There is a video of the attack which the school will not provide to me. However, the LAPD detective who handled the assault case does or at least did have possession of the video. My son has been taunted at the school since the incident by different boys challenging him and calling him out after seeing the video.

I have medical bills totaling almost $10,000 from the 1 emergency room visit. My son has taken alternate bus rides home to avoid being heckled by other students who have seen the video and delight in taunting him. What can I do about this? Can I take legal action against the school? How can we stop this violence from continuing? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Is school liable for my son's medical bills after he was assaulted?":

Concerned parent (Los Angeles, CA):

In most cases, schools aren't legally responsible for crimes committed by students once the students are let out of school. Schools aren't required to act in the capacity of police officers or referees. Even if the assault had taken place during school hours on school premises, the school would likely still not be legally responsible.

However, if the school knew, or should have known one or more students had a history of assaulting other students during school hours, and the school failed to discipline or expel the students, then you might have an argument the school should have interceded. However, even then, fights often erupt spontaneously, and when they do there is little a school teacher can do.

At this point, you don't have a right to see, or have a copy of the video. In the event a lawsuit is filed, your attorney can subpoena the video, along with school records regarding prior fights, student behavior, student discipline, and other information relevant to your son’s case.

However, absent evidence of school negligence and identifiable injuries, you will have a difficult time finding an attorney to accept your son’s case.

There is an alternative... Inasmuch as the student who assaulted your son was arrested, or has been charged with the criminal offense of assault, the student will have to appear in court to face the charge.

In the event the student is found guilty and placed on probation, or the student receives a probated sentence with the possibility of eventual dismissal, the student will have to pay monthly probation fees, report to a probation officer, and pay a fine.

You may contact the prosecutor assigned to the case. Explain your son was the victim of the assault and ask that as part of the student’s probation, he be ordered by the court to reimburse you on a monthly basis for the $10.000.00 paid for your son’s emergency room treatment.

If the prosecutor agrees and the court so orders, the student will be legally required to pay that restitution to you. In the event the student fails to pay the monthly restitution amount, the student can be arrested and incarcerated for the remainder of the sentence.

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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