Courting Justice: School Closed Due to Snow? Blame the Lawyers

February 3, 2014

On a recent snowy day, I was in my office and checked my Facebook page (please don’t tell me you never checked Facebook at work). I saw the following post:

I can’t believe they closed the schools. WTF. There is hardly any snow on the ground. Now I have to find someone to watch my kids while I’m at work.

Ok. So that was a pretty harmless rant. However, when I went to read the comments under the post, I saw what can only be described as a growing mob mentality seeking to take pitchforks and axes to the local lawyer community. Those posts went something like this.

It’s all the lawyers’ fault. They make them close the schools because they are scared of lawsuits from bus accidents.

I hate lawyers. They ruin this country.

Goddamn lawyers. Turning us into a country of wussies.

What’s the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? One is a bottom feeder and the other is a fish!

This world would be so much better if there were no lawyers.

I agree. Selfish, greedy bastards only think about themselves.

Agreed.

Agreed.

Agreed.

Whoa! Easy guys. Put the pitchforks down and put Cujo back in his cage. If you want to blame the lawyers for Peyton Manning’s awful performance the other day, that’s one thing. But, I don’t think you can really blame us for school closings on snowy days. Here’s why.

In Pennsylvania, we have a little known law called the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act. Under this law, schools have significant immunity from lawsuits. You cannot sue a school for a whiplash, aches and pains or even a broken bone.

Let’s say (God forbid) there was a school bus accident. There are only three categories of damages you can sue for. First, you can sue for lost earnings and earning capacity. Last time I checked, most kids who ride school buses are not gainfully employed. Second, you can sue for death. Lastly, you can sue for a permanent loss of bodily function, permanent disfigurement and permanent dismemberment (so if they reattach your arm, you can’t recover).

Fortunately, the vast majority of winter snow related accidents are fender benders. Fender benders mostly cause bumps and bruises. Nothing more. Consequently school bus accidents are not fertile grounds for us bottom feeders when it comes to bringing a lawsuit.

Maybe… just maybe they close the schools when it snows because they are concerned about the safety of the children and not because they are afraid of lawsuits. Go figure.