Yes, in some cases you can sue a school for negligent security if they failed to provide a safe environment which resulted in the injury of you or a loved one.
Georgia schools must follow federal rules for providing a safe environment for our students and teachers. If a school fails to meet the standards for school safety or its negligence causes someone to suffer an injury, the injured person may be able to sue for damages.
What Constitutes Negligent Security at a School
We must prove all four elements to make a successful case for negligent security at a school. These elements are:
1. The school (defendant) had a legal duty toward the injured person (plaintiff).
Schools have a legal duty to protect students, teachers, parents, volunteers, and authorized visitors. The school campus, parking lots, and entryways must be reasonably safe.
2. The defendant breached its duty toward the plaintiff and failed to maintain safety on school premises.
Failure to provide and maintain adequate security is a breach of duty. Thus, behavior that fails to live up to the legal standard of care is negligence.
3. The school’s negligence caused the harm that the plaintiff suffered.
The school’s negligent security must be at least part of the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Mere negligence without injury falls under the “no harm, no foul” rule.
Negligent security claims must involve physical injuries. If someone threatens you with imminent bodily harm, but you manage to escape without physical injuries, you do not have a negligent security claim.
4. Adequate security would have prevented the crime.
Schools are not legally responsible for every crime that takes place on their premises. For example, the school is not liable if providing appropriate security would not have prevented the crime.
New Legislation About School Safety in Georgia
Georgia lawmakers passed tougher security requirements after the school shootings in Florida and other states. These new rules became effective for the 2018-19 school year.
Some school districts previously had some of these measures in place. However, the new law ensures more uniformity in school security measures across the state. The updated requirements require:
- The local emergency management agency to approve every school district’s safety plan.
- School staff to receive training in violence prevention and mental health issues.
- Schools to install and utilize high-tech security devices.
The state of Georgia has set aside $16 million in grants to help schools pay for the security upgrades. Schools will not receive grant money if they do not comply with the new safety requirements.
How New Legislation Affects Liability of Schools
If someone sustains an injury at a school that failed to implement the recently-mandated security measures and its compliance would have prevented the injury, the injured person has a strong negligent security case. In this situation, the plaintiff can sue the school for flouting the traditional negligence and negligent security provisions of the law.
Specific Threats That Schools Must Address
Georgia law requires schools to create and implement safety plans that protect students, teachers, and authorized visitors from:
- Potential terrorist activities
- Transportation risks
- Hazardous materials
- Natural disasters
Victims can bring negligent security claims against schools that fail to take reasonable and required steps to protect them.
Persistently Dangerous Schools
Georgia’s Department of Education identifies schools that have ongoing safety issues and offers them professional and technical help to ensure compliance with safety laws. A student who is the victim of a violent crime or who attends a school labeled as “persistently dangerous” can exercise the Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) and attend a different public school.
You can access the USCO reports to find out about reported criminal activity at your child’s school. Once a school knows about an unsafe condition, it must take reasonable measures to prevent harm to students, teachers, and authorized visitors. Failure to do so can be construed as negligence.
Georgia School Safety Laws
Georgia has many laws that prohibit certain acts on or near school campuses. If a school does not address and enforce these regulations, it can be guilty of negligent security. Some of the prohibited activities include:
- Possession of a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school
- The manufacture, distribution, or possession of marijuana or other controlled substances within a school safety zone
- Possession of alcoholic beverages on school premises
- Cell phones and other electronic communication devices (at the discretion of each school)
- Loitering on or near the school premises (designed to prevent gang and drug activity)
- Disrupting a school, especially in a bomb threat scenario
The law requires that students attend school. Georgia law also orders schools to protect their students and teachers from harm. Victims can sue a school for negligent security if it fails to implement adequate measures to guarantee their safety.
If you need help to decide if you can sue a school for negligent security, call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838. We will set up your free consultation to discuss whether you might be eligible for compensation for negligent security at a school.