Visitor Question

Teacher punched in the back of the head by a student…

Submitted By: Jeff (Binghamton, NY)

I was teaching at a public school. A student punched me in the back of the head and I received a concussion and neck injury. I was out of work for a month. I still have issues with the concussion, including neck pain and stiffness, and have returned to work. The doctor said I had whiplash and a concussion.

I have been in physical therapy for 3 weeks and have not gotten much relief. Is there a case for a settlement and if so, what kind of monetary value would it have? Is there anything I can do about this? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Jeff,

You raise a very interesting issue. In most cases, school administrators, and the districts over which the preside, are not civilly liable for criminal acts committed by students, even when those criminal acts occur on school property.

As a result, you would likely not have a viable personal injury claim against the school administration or the school district. Instead, you would likely have a claim against the student’s parents. Parents are responsible for the acts of their children, especially when those acts involve hurting another person.

There is an exception. If the school knew, or should have known the student in question had a reputation for violence, especially against teachers, and did not take appropriate actions (including, but not limited to, suspending or expelling the student from school), then the school administration may be liable for your injuries and resulting damages.

Those damages can include compensation for your medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for medications, bandages, costs of travel to and from your therapy, etc.), lost wages while treating your injuries, and for your pain and suffering.

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

Best of luck,

Published: November 20, 2014

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