Santa Ana Unified School District Injury Attorneys

Drivers employed by a school in the Santa Ana Unified School District (and all districts in California) have to go through a rigorous background check. They have to have been accident free for a number of years, as well as ticket and DUI free for a long time. There’s good reason for this; parents are trusting these drivers with their children’s welfare and expect them to have a clean driving record.

Tragic accidents happen on the road, but when a child is involved, a criminal investigation and lawsuit often follow. Such was the case when Priscilla Vallejo, a 13-year old student at Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School in the Santa Ana Unified School District, was struck by a truck which belonged to the district, and by whom the driver was employed. She tragically died shortly after. No charges were brought against the driver and no lawsuit was filed. However, there are numerous situations in which the driver, and thereby the school, could have been proven negligent.

Santa Ana USD by the Numbers

The District has a total of 62 schools whose students are 96 percent Hispanic. It only serves the city of Santa Ana and covers just 24 square miles but still has 56,000 students and a $583 million operating budget.

Suing a school district anywhere is a highly technical process, because school’s have certain immunities that other public places don’t. It’s known as “sovereign immunity,” and it means that government agencies – in this case, schools – are protected from civil suit under many circumstances. Of course, a plaintiff certainly has a case if their child was injured on school grounds and neglect can be proven, but that is usually a tedious endeavor which requires a lot of paperwork. Obviously, this can be very tough to struggle through if stricken with grief.

In terms of proving negligence, “premises liability” comes into play – something our Santa Ana school negligence attorneys know a lot about. This is if it can be proven that if the supervisor had just done their job correctly, injury or more tragic consequences would have been avoided. It’s important to research state laws in this matter, as they can vary greatly. Be aware that a claim usually needs to be filed with the district before a civil suit happens, and to keep track of all paperwork and evidence in case the court needs to get involved.

Application of Law

In the aforementioned case of the truck driver and the little girl, it all comes down to proving liability along with the potential for negligence. Was he looking at his phone, was he playing with the radio, did he not completely stop at a stop sign? Any of these situations, if factually proven, would be grounds for negligence and liability could be applied to the school district, because after all they’re the ones who hired him.

In California, specific statutes applying to injuries on school grounds or those caused by negligence of a school employee. The language is murky at best, but it basically states that a district can be sued if the injury happens as a direct result of “omission of duty” by the employee. Immunity laws can seem all-encompassing, but if the teacher or administrator was not doing what they were supposed to do, and your child was injured as a result, you can sue for damages. But be aware of the entire process.

There are many other situations in which a school can be found liable for negligence. Given this lengthy process for filing a lawsuit, if you need an attorney you’re going to need one who’s an expert in school negligence law. These are just some of the areas we cover:

If something like this happens to your child at a Santa Ana USD school, call the school injury attorneys Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP or fill out our online contact form for a free case consultation. With us you’ll have the resources and expertise to help you handle the legal side of such an unfortunate circumstance, and receive just compensation.