A tragic school accident that left two students with serious burns have New Yorkers wondering who's at fault.
A chemistry teacher at Beacon High School was hoping to present her students with a fun demonstration when it turned into a fiery disaster that resulted in one student with second and third degree burns and another with less severe burns.
With this accident occurring at school, who's responsible for the injuries?
Who's at Fault?
When deciding who's at fault for school accidents, it's important to determine if the school is public or private. Even though it may seem posh, Beacon High School is a public school. To sue a public school in New York, you must file a "notice of claim" with the proper government agency within 90 days of the injury. If the claim is rejected, then a civil lawsuit can be filed.
There are several defendants that can be named in the lawsuit, including:
School Teachers: Teachers have a duty to provide a safe environment for their students. Anna Poole, the chemistry teacher that conducted the demonstration, was responsible for making sure that experiment was safe. Even though it's reasonable for a high school chemistry class to be experimenting with chemical reactions, Poole could be found negligent if she breached her duty to act responsibly.
School District: Like teachers, school districts are legally required to keep premises safe for students. Under premise liability law, schools are responsible for making sure that all chemistry labs are stocked with the proper safety equipment, like fire blankets, eye washes, goggles, and fire hydrants. The school is also responsible for making sure that all lab materials are functioning correctly.
Students/Parents: Although preliminary reports from the New York Post indicate that only the chemistry teacher was involved in this experiment gone awry, the injured children's fellow students could be liable if they contributed to the injuries.
The school district contacted the injured students' parents and the principal is continuing to investigate who's at fault for the fiery accident.
- Students Treated For Burns As UWS High School Chemistry Experiment Goes Awry (CBS 2-TV)
- Your New York Personal Injury Case: The Basics (FindLaw)
- Legal Issues and Laws Relating to School Safety (FindLaw)
- 8th Grader Loses an Eye to Bullies; Family Sues School (FindLaw's New York Personal Injury Law Blog)