Liability in Bullying Wrongful Death Cases

by Randy Collins on Jan. 29, 2017

Accident & Injury Wrongful Death Accident & Injury  Personal Injury 

Summary: Unfortunately, bullying has been a part of the education system in the United States forever. The effects of bullying are often debilitating to the victim’s emotional and psychological well-being as was the case with a recent case involving 16-year-old Daniel Mendez.

Unfortunately, bullying has been a part of the education system in the United States forever. The effects of bullying are often debilitating to the victim's emotional and psychological well-being as was the case with a recent case involving 16-year-old Daniel Mendez. Mendez had endured constant bullying and racial harassment from four boys which resulted in him taking his own life.

Mendez passed away from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and as a result, the teen's parents filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the four boys that were held responsible. Eventually, two of the boys settled out of court, and the parents dropped the lawsuit against the school district due to insufficient evidence. Similar suits have been filed by Orange County wrongful death lawyers in recent years.

Legislation in effect to prevent bullying

In instances such as these, claims against perpetrators of bullying can be filed particularly if the victim sustains injuries from others or from self-harm. Where possible, school districts may also be held accountable if negligence is involved and proven. In California, several laws have been enacted to ensure that students are safe in their schools.

For instance, AB79 authorizes the department of education to develop courses of action to eradicate bullying while SB257 requires schools and law enforcement authorities to implement directives aimed at preventing harassment and discrimination in schools.   On the other hand, AB394 makes certain that students of various sexual orientations such as those from the LGBTQ community have a safe space to learn. More recent legislations, chiefly the AB 86 allows administrators to discipline perpetrators of cyber bullying.  Last but not least, AB 9 reinforces anti-bullying regulations and offers specialized training to members of staff, while also reducing the amount of time bullying cases undergo investigations for better results.

Parents must step in as well

As the state has apparently stepped up to ensure that cases of bullying and harassment are reduced, parents and guardians also have to pull up their socks to set an example on how students should treat one another not only in the school environment but also in the community as well.  The manner in which family and community members interact with one another has a significant influence on how the younger members of the community interact with each other in their schools, based on conclusions from the California Department of Education.

Furthermore, studies show that children, who have witnessed abuse in their household, whether it is of a physical or verbal nature, are more likely to act violently towards others. Members of the community must be prepared to be held liable when cases of extreme bullying result in fatal injuries or the unfortunate death of a victim.   

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