Can I Sue the Parents of My Child's Bully?
As leading child injury lawyers in Southern California, the attorneys at Case Barnett Law have helped countless parents find justice for their injured children. If your child suffered serious injuries caused by someone else, schedule a free consultation to explore your legal options.
As a parent, you take on numerous roles and responsibilities. Your most basic job, however, is to protect your child from anyone who would try to harm them.
Safeguarding a child from dangerous adults comes naturally to most parents. However, certain dynamics of modern living can confound a parent’s protective instincts, complicating their ability to keep their children safe. Perhaps the best example is when a child falls victim to a school bully.
Learning your child is the victim of school bullying can be a frustrating, almost paralyzing discovery. Many parents in this situation struggle to find an appropriate action and feel powerless to help their children. This is especially true when the school bully’s parents are unable or unwilling to find a solution.
If this is your situation, don’t despair: You have recourse. Depending on the details of your situation, you may be able to hold the parents accountable for the harm caused by their child through a child injury lawsuit. Although a lawsuit settlement won’t undo the trauma your child has endured, it can accomplish at least two important things.
First, it holds the negligent parents accountable, hopefully deterring them from making the same mistakes. It provides the financial resources to ensure your child receives the best medical and psychological care. It allows you to recoup related losses, such as lost wages from time off work.
This article will explain everything you need to know about suing the parents of your child’s bully, including key eligibility criteria, suing alternative parties, and how an Orange County child injury lawyer can be your best advocate.
What Is Considered School Bullying?
Times have changed, and a bully’s abuse is no longer relegated to the schoolyard. While bullying still occurs in person at school, it now also happens online. In both arenas, it can have a profoundly negative impact on the victim’s physical and psychological well-being.
School bullies tend to peak in middle school and, to many people’s surprise, reportedly affect girls more often than boys. Individual students or groups of students can perpetrate it; in some cases, it is only known about by the bully and their victim.
For many parents, the idea of not knowing is a distressing thought. It’s important to educate yourself on the warning signs of bullying to differentiate them from normal adolescent behavior. Here are some of the most common red flags:
- Unexplained injuries
- Unexplained damage to personal belongings
- Sudden decline in academic performance
- Trouble sleeping, poor concentration
- Avoiding school activities
- Anxiety and related physical symptoms (headaches, stomach problems, etc.)
- Social withdrawal and increased isolation
- Moodiness and uncharacteristic aggression
- Self-harming behaviors
Adolescence is a tumultuous time, and rapidly changing moods and preferences are to be expected. However, the presence of multiple red flags may indicate that something’s not quite right. Parents concerned about bullying should promptly contact their child’s teachers and school authorities, scheduling in-person meetings with educators and sharing their concerns with other parents when necessary.
Suing the Bully’s Parents: Eligibility Criteria
Deciding when and how to take legal action in school bullying cases can be tricky. The fact of the matter is that while some parents are fully aware of their child’s propensity for violence and choose to ignore it, other parents genuinely have no idea.
As a result, you can only sue the parents of your child’s bully in certain situations. Before initiating a lawsuit, make sure to review the following eligibility criteria:
- Parental negligence. To sue a bully’s parents, you need to be able to demonstrate their negligence. A parent can typically be considered negligent if they were aware of their child’s bullying behavior and did nothing to prevent it.
- Direct contribution or encouragement. If a parent directly contributes to their child’s bullying by encouraging the behavior or by explicitly condoning it, they are complicit in their child’s behavior.
- Physical harm. If your child suffers physical injuries as a result of the bullying and the bully’s parents could have reasonably foreseen that possibility but did nothing to prevent it, you can initiate a lawsuit against them.
- Knowledge of past bullying behaviors. If a parent was aware of their child’s history of aggressive behavior and failed to correct or control it, they may be held liable for any resulting injuries.
- Reasonable foreseeability. If a child’s propensity for violence was reasonably foreseeable by their parent, yet that parent neglected to take the appropriate measures to prevent it, you may be able to sue the parent.
- Age of the bully. In most cases, the younger the bully is, the more likely you can hold their parents responsible.
It’s important to remember that each bullying case is unique, and your legal options will depend on the specific details of your situation. The best way to gain insight into your legal options is by speaking with a knowledgeable Orange County personal injury attorney.
Suing Alternative Parties for Bullying Injuries
If you are ineligible to initiate a lawsuit against a bully’s parents, don’t give up—you may be able to bring a claim against a different party. In California, the parent of a bullied child may be able to sue their child’s school or school district, specific school employees or administrators, and even the bully if they are an older teen or adult. This is another reason why navigating your legal options is best done alongside an experienced lawyer.
Case Barnett Law: Leading Child Injury Attorneys in Orange County, CA
Few things are as painful as watching your child suffer from abuse. If someone at school is bullying your child, you can help protect them by taking legal action against the negligent or at-fault party. If you’re considering filing a lawsuit, don’t try to do it alone—the compassionate Costa Mesa personal injury attorney team at Case Barnett Law are here to help.
Ready to get started? Contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation today.