Legal Options for Victims of School Shootings

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School should be one of the safest places in the community. Instead, school shootings are a tragic reality, and the deaths, injuries, and repercussions are a serious problem in our country today. More and more, individuals are seeking justice against the assailant and any individuals or entities that ultimately caused or contributed towards the crime.

Affected loved ones have found that they can legally address what happened to their child by prosecuting negligent guardians and gun owners. In addition, school and government officials and institutions are being held accountable, legitimate costly damages are recovered, and ultimately some are able to find that it provides some kind of closure.

Chilling Truth About Public Education

Since Sandy Hook (which happened  in 2012) up until now, there have been well over 300 school shootings, and this leaves out many others, such as the Virginia Tech Shooting in 2007, the Columbine School massacre that occurred in 1999, and the University of Texas Sniper shooting in 1966. Sadly, the shootings continue, despite pleas to make things better.

School attendance is required by law. So, unless a family is able to homeschool or use an alternative option, this means that children are simply not allowed to opt out of putting their very lives in potential danger on a daily basis, and in the hands of school staff and security.

The pain ripples throughout the community, from a terrorizing massacre to uprooting waves of grief, dismay, and confusion to a dark tremor that grows outward to shakeup a community and ultimately anyone else that learns of the horrifying tragedy. The death of every innocent life is disastrous, and the physical and mental disabling of individuals from this harrowing experience can affect them and caregivers for the rest of their lives. Children may grow into troubled adults with severe PTSD who can never fully shake the trauma. Parents may find their lives dismantled in order to care for their now severely disabled child. Students and staff are afraid to return to the school, and meanwhile, some parents and loved ones are forced to endure the pain of burying their child.

When tragedy strikes, inadequate care and safety measures that should have preserved the peaceful educational environments are often brought to light. Hundreds of school shootings have happened throughout American history, and time and time again those that have been victimized have sought the legal route to hold others accountable.


  • Failure to supervise
  • Failure to prevent the tragedy
  • Failure to inform
  • Media liability for perpetuating violence among youth
  • Irresponsible gun vendors for selling gun without following legal or commonsense protocol
  • Suing gun manufacturers for not equipping guns with trigger-lock devices
  • Parental liability for the perpetrator, negligent parenting
  • Inadequate and irresponsible gun ownership, particularly around  minors
  • Suing government agencies such as the sheriff’s office or school district for negligence, especially if there was also failure to inform, investigate, or protect after learning of a significant danger

You Won’t Be Alone

It’s actually quite common for survivors and family members  of victims of these shootings to seek legal action. The following are a few examples of cases that have been filed.

  • After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting of this year took the life of Meadow Pollack, her father Andrew Pollack chose to hold Sheriff Deputy Scot Peterson liable for hiding outside of the school instead of being more proactive to save the students and staff that were trapped inside with Nikolas Cruz, the shooter that ended up killing 17 people and injuring 17 others. Pollack also filed suit against three medical centers that evaluated him and determined he was safe. Finally, he also filed suit against the couple that housed him but allowed him his guns, as well as the estate of Cruz’s late mother.  
  • Sandy Hook, a school shooting in 2012, was never a “giant hoax” as Alex Jones, a famous conspiracy theorist, claimed in his broadcast across the country. In this situation, three parents, Veronique De La Rosa, Neil Heslin, and Leonard Pozner, whose children were killed by 20-year-old Adam Lanza (who ultimately killed himself) determined that enough was enough. They decided to file against Jones for $1 million each for “a severe degree of mental stress and anguish” due to his bogus claims that subjected them to “public contempt, disgrace, ridicule, or attack.” For years, Jones claimed that the shooting was actually carried out by crisis actors who were out to dismantle the Second Amendment right to bear arms. He has millions of followers across the country.
  • The Thurston High School shooting in 1998 left student, Teresa Miltonberger, severely injured to the point where she had to spend 65 days in the hospital. Her medical bills were already more than $250,000 at the time, and they were expected to continue growing for the rest of her life. Doctors were unable to completely remove all of the bullet fragments from her brain, and so Teresa has been forced to accept her cognitive impairment and loss of memory ever since. Her parents filed a $14.5 million lawsuit against the perpetrator, Kip Kinkel and the estate of his parents, Bill and Faith Kinkel for negligent supervision of their child and irresponsible gun ownership around a minor.

Important Things to Keep in Mind

  • Deadlines to file notices in your state (ex: in Colorado, the deadline is 180 days)
  • You can file in state AND federal court
  • There can be backlash, so it is NOT recommended to fight alone. A compassionate, courageous, and qualified lawyer will help you through any difficult scenarios in your legal battle.
  • Juvenile law is different in each state, and some perpetrators are mandated for release once they turn a certain age*

*Two mass-murderers that killed five people in Arkansas in 1998 when they were 11 and 13 have since been released when they turned 21. One has since been found with a gun and rearrested, and the other has applied for a concealed carry permit.

Take Action: Legal Support is Available

It is with a heavy heart that many must accept the fact that nothing will be able to really make it all better again, but the least that can be done is to seek relief wherever it can be found. Unfortunately, life outside of this crisis will continue to march on, and so medical bills will continue to flow in, and without adequate legal pressure irresponsible gun ownership will continue to occur, also negligent guardianship and law enforcement will remain a problem. Parents of victimized children have taken to civil law in efforts to empower the innocent. If this sounds like something that you or a loved one are ready for, please consider contacting one of our compassionate and trusted lawyers.