My Child Is Being Bullied at School. Are There Legal Repercussions?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Bullying is a harmful act that can cause long-term emotional and physical effects on our children. The law defines bullying as any aggressive, purposeful behavior that’s intended to frighten, threaten, or harm another child. It’s important to understand the distinction between children “picking on” one another and an actual act of bullying. Specifically, bullying can occur in situations such as:

  • One student waiting in an area for the express purpose of intimidating another
  • Taking money or other personal belongings through force or aggression
  • Using intimidation to force a fellow student to complete homework or give answers
  • Initiating a physical altercation with another student

Some parents still dismiss bullying, saying it’s a childish lark and normal phase of development. But modern bullying, especially online, has created an atmosphere where students have even turned to suicide and other violent extremes. States and local municipalities have begun to enforce anti-bullying measures to protect other children from harm.

Bullying in Schools: Who’s Liable?

Liability in bullying cases can be hard to assign. Several parties may be held responsible for acts of bullying, from the child him or herself to the parents or the school system. School officials, for instance, are required to create a safe environment for their students at all times. When bullying happens on school property, an attorney may first look at the district’s responsibility. If a school’s teachers or administrators knew about a bullying situation but did nothing to prevent it, they may be charged for any general or special damages.

If the school didn’t know about a bullying situation or the incident didn’t take place on school grounds, liability falls on the child or the child’s parents. A student’s parents may be liable, for example, if they were aware of the misconduct, condoned it, or encouraged the behavior in any way.

A bullied child generally needs to have tangible evidence of suffering or injury to collect on a personal injury claim. He or she must show evidence of physical injury or loss of valuable property. Intangible losses are harder to prove in court, such as suffering purely emotional injuries and distress. Thus, this kind of hardship is less likely to result in damages.

What Are the Legal Repercussions for Bullying?

In light of recent headlines detailing the consequences of bullying, most states have instituted some kind of anti-bullying law. Others are currently considering other forms of legislation.

Texas mandates that school districts make and enforce their own anti-bullying policies. Those who are in violation of school policy may be expelled, be transferred, or face additional disciplinary action. In cases where bullying becomes criminal (theft, defacing public property, assault, etc.), the bully could face time in a juvenile facility.

A Note About Cyber-Bullying

Today’s information age means students face new bullying threats online. Cyberbullying refers to acts that intimidate, harass, or humiliate on the internet. To protect your kids from this phenomenon, consider implementing the following measures:

Monitor social media usage. Without caution, everything your children post will be available to everyone else online. Some users are just looking to harass others, and running into this kind of interaction can be devastating for kids who won’t understand why someone is being mean.

Restrict chat/forum activity. Similar to social media sites, posting on public forums or open chats may be exciting for young kids who feel like they’re interacting with the entire world. Of course, this also makes them a target for bullies who think it’s funny to be mean regardless of the conversation.

Legal Action

For legal action to be taken, these threats must be intense or persistent enough to make the victim feel unsafe. Talk to a personal injury attorney for more info about your options.

Your child’s emotional and physical well-being are of upmost importance. If you feel this is being threatened due to a school’s or parent’s negligence, you may have grounds for a civil lawsuit. Contact our office for a free initial consultation.

Posted by admin at 10:47 pm

If a Jaywalker Is Hit by a Car, Who’s at Fault?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

When we think of accidents involving pedestrians and fault, we often assume that the motorist is at fault. In driver’s education courses, we’re often taught that pedestrians have the right of way. In certain situations, however, pedestrians can be liable for accidents, either partially or wholly.

How Do We Determine Fault?

Imagine witnessing a car hit a pedestrian. When telling a friend about the accident, you maintain that it was the pedestrian’s fault because he or she ran out in front of the vehicle before the driver could react. In some cases, assigning fault is this simple. There’s little a motorist can do when a pedestrian runs out in front of traffic. In these situations, witness testimony like yours may help an insurance adjuster arrive at that decision. Insurers may also look at police reports, traffic cameras, and whether or not the driver was following all applicable laws.

In the case that the driver is wholly at fault, the pedestrian will easily recover damages from the driver’s insurance policy for economic and general damages. The main hassle in these circumstances is fighting with an insurance company to raise its lowball offers.

In the event that a pedestrian shoulders all the blame for an accident, he or she likely won’t get compensation for subsequent injuries. In fact, the driver may be able to file a personal injury claim if he or she was injured in the process of swerving, or if the insurance company won’t cover the full cost of property damage.

Instances in which a pedestrian may be fully at fault include jaywalking (crossing in the middle of the street), crossing against a traffic signal, walking along a highway, or walking while intoxicated.

What About Shared Fault?

Even in these scenarios, a driver may shoulder at least part of the blame for an accident. For example, a motorist may be partially at fault for a jaywalking accident if he or she was speeding even just a few miles over the limit. Distracted driving is another common reason for shared fault in jaywalking cases.

When both the pedestrian and driver are a fault, the courts turn to one of two different legal concepts to guide their decisions in personal injury claims: contributory negligence or comparative negligence.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Most states, including Texas, use the principle of comparative negligence to determine the proportion of fault in personal injury cases. A handful use an all-or-nothing system called contributory negligence to settle personal injury claims, stating that a guilty party must be 100% at fault for an injured person to collect a personal injury settlement. While these cut down on the number of personal injury cases the courts see, they’re rarely fair.

Dallas and surrounding areas use a comparative negligence rule when an injured person, like a jaywalking pedestrian, shares some of the blame for an accident. Under this rule, the victim can collect damages from another at-fault party, but the settlement will be reduced by his or her fair share of fault.

For instance, imagine a driver was texting a friend when a jaywalker stepped out in front of him or her. The vehicle strikes the pedestrian, causing extensive injuries. The pedestrian sues the driver for damages, and a jury determines that the driver was 60% at fault for the accident. The pedestrian is entitled to damages minus his or her proportion of fault.

Texas follows what’s known as the 51% rule, meaning an injured party can recover damages if he or she is 50% at fault or less.

Have You Been Injured in a Pedestrian Accident?

If you’ve been injured by a vehicle, you may be eligible for compensation—even if you were jaywalking. Contact our office for a free case evaluation to see if you qualify.

Posted by admin at 10:03 pm

How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Settlement?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A fair settlement can provide your family with compensation to pay for medical bills, make up for lost wages due to missed work, and other expenses associated with daily living. Many personal injury claims also include what’s known as “pain and suffering” costs. What are these, and how do personal injury attorneys calculate them?

Most personal injury claims hinge on the plaintiff providing evidence of negligence. Negligence is a term the legal system uses to describe actions in which one person fails to exercise reasonable care around another. When a person commits negligence, he or she may cause another person pain and suffering.

Pain and Suffering Defined

Lawyers use the term “general damages” to define any intangible losses, like pain and suffering, as part of an injury settlement. But how can you quantify your pain? It’s hard to pin a number on, but lawyers use a specific system to calculate the economic and general damages associated with a settlement. The two most common are the multiplier method and the per diem approach.

The Multiplier Method

The multiplier method refers to a process by which an actuary takes your economic damages (these are easy to calculate and include things like lost wages and medical bills) and multiples them by a number as small as 1.5 and as large as 5. An actuary might multiply the number by 5 in the case of gross negligence, for example, but will use a smaller number if the injuries are minor. Other factors that affect the multiplier are your likelihood for a speedy and complete recovery as well as the impact on your daily activities.

The multiplier method is the most common form of calculating general damages, as it’s the same process most insurance companies use. Often, the sticking point in the negotiation phase is the multiplier used to calculate general damages. An experienced law firm can help you maximize your settlement by fighting for a fair multiplier.

The “Per Diem” Calculation

Less common is the “per diem” method of calculating pain and suffering. This process gets its name from the Latin phrase meaning “each day.” It relies on demanding a certain dollar amount for every day you experience pain as a result of your accident.

This approach is less common because attorneys often disagree on the appropriate way to set a dollar amount for each day of suffering. If you miss a significant amount of work as the result of your accident, the best approach may be to use your daily earnings as a starting point.

Say, for example, you were involved in a car accident and experienced a fractured arm as a result. You wore a cast for six weeks and took pain pills each day to alleviate your suffering. Even after your cast is off, you continue to experience pain for another month, for a total of 75 days of suffering. Say you make $35,000 a year—approximately $95 per day. Your per diem settlement would be around $7,2000.

This method is fine for clear cut cases, but when it comes to long-term injuries, permanently disabling conditions, or lost earning capacity, this calculation falls apart. For this reason, the legal profession more commonly relies on the multiplier calculation.

Have You Been Injured in an Accident?

If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be wondering about the recourse for the parties responsible or wondering how to pay for your medical bills. The Attorneys at Aaron Herbert are skilled at negotiating settlements that are fair, given the extent of your pain and suffering. To start your personal injury claim today, contact our office for a free case evaluation. We offer our services on a contingency-fee basis, so there’s no risk to you.

Posted by admin at 10:44 pm