There was a very sad case recently that lead to an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit where an 11 year old boy passed away after having an asthma attack and seizure at school. The lawsuit alleged that the boy was unsupervised and his medical condition was known. Regrettably, even though that had an outstanding law firm in their corner, the case was dismissed.
There are a few of reasons the family didn’t get their day in court. First, it’s generally held that schools can not supervise every student at all times. That’s not to say they can be left on their own for hours. Schools just aren’t expected to supervise them at all hours. Second, you can’t sue public schools in Illinois for general negligence. You have to show they had “wilful and wanton” disregard which is a much higher standard. Third, public schools in Illinois are protected by the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. This law immunizes public employees from liability for a failure to examine someone, or failure to examine someone adequately, for a disease or mental health problem.
In plain English, suing a public school for a injury in Illinois is very hard to do. Or to be more clear, it’s hard to win.
If your child falls from the monkey bars and breaks their arm, there might be negligence by the school, but not a wilful and wanton failure unless they knew the monkey bars were broken. If your child gets beaten up by a bully, it’s probably a tough case to win unless the school knows it’s going to happen or teachers stand by and encourage it to happen.
It’s much different if your child is hurt at a private day care or private school. There the general laws of negligence apply.
I don’t write this to discourage anyone from finding out if they have a case. On the contrary, you can call us for free to discuss any case that you want. We just want people to be educated about what the laws are in IL. A lot of people think that attorneys are scared to take on the State or a school. It’s simply not true. What lawyers want to do is get involved in winning cases. The reality is that the laws for suing schools are stacked heavily in favor of the public schools. That doesn’t mean there can never be a victory. We’ve been involved in winning cases against public schools. What it does mean is that it’s harder and there are no slam dunks.
I hope this isn’t confusing to anyone. If you have any questions, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.