This is not to stay that bullying doesn’t occur among adults, but it is much easier to succeed at bullying in the confines of childhood than it is as a working adult. Few adults, for example, will tolerate anyone simply taking someone else’s meal at a restaurant, or pushing that person out of his or her table and occupying the seat instead. In childhood, however, such activities succeed all the time, everywhere around the nation, including, unfortunately, Florida.
But just because it happens, it doesn’t mean that it is always harmless or always legal.
Bullies Can Be Held Accountable
The clearest legal opportunity to take action is when bullying has resulted in the physical harm of a child. For example, if children are at a shopping mall, riding down an escalator, and one child is being bullied, to the point where he or she is pushed, this can certainly turn into a legal case. This is especially true if the child that is pushed falls down the escalator and sustains an injury, such as breaking an arm or a leg. In this instance, the child’s injury is not the result of negligence from the shopping mall owners, it is the direct result of the actions of the bully, and that means that bully and his parents can be held accountable.
In the same way, if the circumstances are even more tragic, legal and financial accountability are certainly on the table. If we look at the same example, if the child is pushed and doesn’t just tumble down the escalator, but falls right off the edge, plummeting the rest of the way down, resulting in a lethal fall the child doesn’t survive, then this is a case of wrongful death.
Once again, this is not the fault to the shopping mall, as the owners and managers were not being negligent. The bully, having pushed a child to his or her death, is directly responsible, even if, later, the bully claims “it was an accident.” The fact that it was the push that resulted in the death means that, intentional or not, the bully is clearly at fault, regardless of whether the point was “just to scare,” or “send a message.”
What You Can Do
Location can play an important role in how you proceed when it comes to taking legal action for bullying that causes harm. If, for example, the injury takes place on school grounds, an experienced personal injury attorney may tell you that it is the school that should be held legally accountable. Part of the reason for this is that schools do have a certain responsibility to ensure student safety. In the case of bullying, the school would certainly be held negligent if there were previous incidents of bullying, and at least one school official was aware, but nothing was done as the bullying incidents continued to escalate, finally resulting in injury or death on school grounds.
However, if the bullying takes place off school property, especially if it is not consistent, then the responsibility may ultimately transfer to the bully, and to the bully’s parents. If, in our example above, the child being bullied had no previous history with the bully, and bully seemed to push the child, at random and for the first time, at the shopping mall escalators, the school would not have any liability. In this instance, the school couldn’t be aware of prior history, because there was none until this single, random act. And the fact that the act took place away from school grounds, with no teachers present and required to exercise duty of care, means that sole responsibility rests with the bully and his family.
While in the past, the conventional wisdom may have been “boys will be boys,” even when the results involved injury, bloodshed, or even death, that’s not how it works today, in Florida, in the 21st century. Florida has taken a strong stance against bullying, and even has anti-bullying laws in place. But when that bullying results in injury or even wrongful death, it is both understandable and necessary for the parents of the victim to pursue justice. Talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer to find out how to proceed when someone else’s bad parenting results in your child getting singled out and victimized. This should not go unanswered..