Can my dad sue the school where he works, ifa firecracker thrown into his classroom by some students injured his hearing?

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Can my dad sue the school where he works, ifa firecracker thrown into his classroom by some students injured his hearing?

My dad has suffered what appears to be a worsening hearing loss after a firecracker exploded in his classroom. He and other teachers at his school have been suffering from several student pranks. The school director doesn’t bother keeping the order or pursue any legal actions. Can he sue the school?

Asked on January 6, 2011 under Personal Injury

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Prior to filing a lawsuit, your dad should obtain his medical reports and medical bills for his injury.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of his injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  If the case can be settled with the school district's insurance carrier, then a lawsuit would not be necessary.  If the case cannot be settled, your dad should proceed with the lawsuit.  The lawsuit will need to be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or your dad will lose his rights forever in the matter.

Your dad may have a claim for negligence against the school for its failure to maintain adequate security.  Negligence is based on failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable school would exercise to prevent foreseeable harm to its employees).  In order to prove negligence, it will be necessary to prove duty of care, breach of duty, actual cause and proximate cause. 

The school breached its duty of care by failing to maintain adequate security to prevent foreseeable harm from student pranks.  Actual cause means but for the failure to maintain security would the students have been able to throw firecrackers causing your dad's hearing loss?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the school of liability?  If the answer is no, the school is liable.  The problem here is whether or not the students throwing firecrackers was unforeseeable.  Your dad could argue that given the track record of student pranks and lax security/discipline that such an event was not unforeseeable and therefore the school should be held liable.

Damages (the amount your dad seeks to recover in his lawsuit) would be compensation for his hearing loss including medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering as well as any wage loss.

Is your dad receiving workers' compensation for his hearing loss?  Workers' compensation is an alternative to filing a lawsuit.


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