Can I Sue if My Child Is Being Bullied?

By Peter DePaolis

Disclaimer: We are NOT handling these types of cases at this time. This blog is intended to share our perspective and general insight on various topics of personal injury law. Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP only handles cases in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. 

Bullying is a global epidemic that can cause issues such as mental health problems, depression, anxiety and child suicide. Bullying is a dangerous matter all parents and schools should take seriously. If another kid is bullying your child, you may have legal recourse as a parent. The bully’s parents and/or your child’s school may be liable for bullying behaviors that cause physical or emotional injuries.

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A Responsibility to Prevent Bullying

The foundation of a personal injury lawsuit is negligence. Negligence is a breach of duty of care owed to another person, resulting in injuries or deaths. In a lawsuit based on bullying, the element of proof is the same. You, the plaintiff, or your attorney will have to prove the defendant owed your child a duty of care and breached this duty, resulting in the bullying situation that harmed your child.

A parent or school could be negligent in preventing bullying in many ways, including:

  • Failing to institute anti-bullying rules
  • Neglecting anti-bullying awareness or education
  • Failing to train teachers and staff members to prevent bullying
  • Ignoring complaints about bullying
  • Overlooking or allowing bullying behaviors
  • Breaking a state law or policy regarding bullying response procedures
  • Discriminating against protected classes

If you have evidence that a parent, school or staff member breached a duty he or she reasonably owed your child, and that this breach of duty contributed to the bullying incident, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the defendant. Duty, breach, damages and causation are the four main elements necessary for a negligence-based claim. A lawyer can help you gather these elements together to file a bullying claim in your county.

Who Is Liable in a Northern Virginia Bullying Claim?

Disclaimer: We are NOT handling these types of cases at this time. 

Before you or your lawyer can file a bullying claim, you must identify the correct defendant(s). The defendant will be the person or entity most at fault for your child’s injuries or emotional distress. If the bully is another child, vicarious liability may go to the bully’s parents. If the bully is an adult such as a teacher at a school, liability may land on the individual or his or her employer. One or more parties may be responsible for failing to protect your child from bullying, harassment, discrimination or cyberbullying.

  • A school. Your child’s school could be liable for damages if it reasonably should have prevented the incident through better staff training and/or antibullying protocols. If another school would have been able to prevent your child’s injuries or emotional harm, the school may be legally responsible. The school could also be vicariously liable for the actions of negligent teachers or school counselors.
  • A school district. If your child attended a public school, the district or the government may owe you compensation. The district in charge of the school may absorb liability for mistakes the public school makes, including failing to prevent or address bullying.
  • The parents of the child bullying your kid may be liable for your child’s losses if they negligently failed to address known issues regarding bullying. Victims of bullying can file lawsuits against the bully’s parents if the bully is under 18. If the bully is over 18, he or she may be individually responsible for damages.

Your Legal Options in Northern Virginia

Bullying is a significant issue schools and guardians should take extremely seriously. Failing to take the proper steps to prevent bullying or to remedy a known bullying situation before it can cause harm is negligence.

If your child experienced mental health problems, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, self-harming behaviors, poor performance in school, post-traumatic stress disorder, physical injuries or other harms because of bullying, an experienced Fairfax personal injury lawyer can help you go up against the correct defendant(s). The odds of securing compensation for bullying are higher now than they were in the past thanks to a heightened awareness of this problem.

Disclaimer: We are NOT handling these types of cases at this time. 

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.