Published: 01 May 2019
Author: Amy Olver
Can you bring a compensation claim for bullying at school?
We have recently seen an increase in allegations of sexual abuse within both private and public school settings.
As a firm specialising in compensation for survivors of abuse, we are receiving an increased number of enquiries seeking remedy for the negligence of private and public schools handling of bullying resulting in ongoing injuries.
Government data reveals that a whopping 18% of students between the years 7 to 9 were bullied in Victorian schools last year.
How do you seek compensation if you have been abused at school?
Claiming for school abuse
In order to be successful for a claim of pain and suffering a plaintiff must first prove they have suffered a significant injury as defined under The Wrongs Act.
Even in the circumstance where a plaintiff is able to provide a medical report as evidence that they have suffered a significant injury, it is at the school’s discretion whether it refers the matter to the medical panel for a further opinion, one that is final and binding.
A medical panel is an assortment of doctors with relevant expertise convened for the purpose of assessing a person’s stability, injury and ongoing treatment needs.
How do we avoid the need for multiple assessments?
In the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which focused on trauma-informed approaches, it’s time the legislation caught up and provided a process whereby the plaintiff is not forced to retell their story to multiple doctors and/or a panel of strangers.
Perhaps a way forward is a similar approach to that of the Transport Accident Commission which uses a joint medical examination approved of by both parties to circumvent the need for multiple assessments. However, how this would work without a centralised defendant remains to be seen.
Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino is said to be consulting with the Attorney General on the issue of how a medical panel could be less invasive.
If you or someone you know has suffered injury as a result of bullying at school its important you seek legal advice.