If my son suffered a concussion at the hands of a bully, is the school liable for medical bills?

My son attends public school. We reported this particular bully three times, and twice the bully retaliated. The teacher spoke with the other parents, and my son and the bully met with the school counselor. The next day, the bully pushed my son on the playground so hard that he fell, hit his head on the gravel and received a concussion (as diagnosed by the ER doctor). My son and the bully share a locker, and this was not changed after the reports. Can either the school or the boy’s parents be held liable for our medical bills? Should we speak to a personal injury attorney? In Minneapolis, MN.   

Asked on November 2, 2011 under Personal Injury, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You should definitely speak with a personal injury attorney:

1) You could sue the bully's parents or guardian. The parents or legal guardian of a child are responsible for that child's tortious, or wrongful, actions, and intentional assault (pushing) is a tort. While the standard for a wrongful action is different for a child than an adult (and appropriately so), from what you write, this is not a situation of a child simply showing somewhat subpar judgment on one occasion; it is part of a pattern of intentional harassment and assult (bullying) and therefore there is a good chance you could establish liability.

2) You may also be able to establish liability against the school. A school is not normally liable for an action by one student against another. However, when the school was aware that there was an issue and/or a pattern of wrongful behavior and did not take effective actioin to stop it, they may be liable for their failure to supervise properly.

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