When parents send their children to school, they generally assume that they will be properly monitored, kept safe and protected from harm. Inevitably, however, New York City’s school children do, on occasion, suffer injuries – sometimes very serious injuries – while at school. Of course, a parent’s first instinct and priority is to make sure that their injured child receives immediate medical attention to treat their injuries. After the immediate emergency of the injury has been dealt with, however, parents want to know how and why their child was permitted to be seriously injured while they were supposed to be under the care and supervision of school officials and teachers. If a parent suspects that negligence of the school’s faculty, staff and/or administration is to blame for their child’s injuries, and the child’s injuries are potentially permanent, exploring the possibility of bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the school may be advisable. In this article, we discuss how a parent might go about bringing such a personal injury lawsuit if their child was injured at a public school within the City of New York. It should be noted that many of the procedures and rules discussed in this article may not apply if the child was injured at a private school, or due to the negligence of anyone apart from public school officials, staff or teachers.
The first step in the process of pursuing a personal injury claim against a public school within the City of New York is to retain an attorney, preferably one with experience in pursuing claims for compensation for personal injuries against the City of New York and its various agencies, including the Department of Education of the City of New York. Retaining an attorney experienced in these matters is important, as there are various special procedural requirements to bringing these cases (discussed below) which, if not performed properly, may irreparably impair your child’s claims or totally foreclose the possibility of obtaining compensation for his or her injuries, no matter how serious they may be. Jesse Minc is proud to count himself among the group of lawyers with significant experience and success in pursuing claims for personal injuries against the Department of Education of the City of New York for injured children.
After retaining an attorney, you must, within 90 days serve a document known as a “Notice of Claim” on the Department of Education of the City of New York, as well as on the City of New York itself, on behalf of your child outlining your child’s claims. Serving a notice of claim upon both the City of New York and the Department of Education of the City of New York is required pursuant to Section 3813; and a failure to serve both the City and the Department of Education may result in serious impairment of your child’s claims. Though New York law may permit notices of claim to be filed after this initial 90-day period has elapsed (only in the case of legal “infants”, or children under a certain age), it is always advisable to serve the notice of claim in a timely fashion, permission of a Court must be obtained to serve a late notice of claim, and there is no guarantee that this request will be granted.
After the notice of claim is served, the parent (or the child himself or herself, if he/she is old enough to testify) must appear for an interview known as a “50-h Hearing” (so named after the statute, General Municipal Law Section 50-h) to explain the child’s claims to the City and the Department of Education. After this hearing, the lawsuit may be formally commenced as would any other lawsuit; and these cases are generally brought in the Supreme Court in the borough in which the school at which the child was injured was located. Cases of this type typically take approximately between three and five years to reach a settlement or a trial, depending upon the complexity of the case and the venue (i.e., whether it’s brought in the Bronx, Brooklyn or elsewhere within the City of New York) in which the case is brought.