By: Sharon Nelson, AAE Director of Legal Services
A few years ago, Sean Lanigan was a well-liked elementary school gym teacher living in a small town. Sean had taught at the suburban school in his close knit community for more than thirteen years, where he also coached a high school boys’ soccer team and various club teams in the area, receiving accolades and rave reviews from students and community members for over a decade. That was until the rug was swiftly pulled from under him when he was falsely accused of misconduct by a student looking for revenge after he had disciplined her.
The chaos that ensued nearly ruined Sean’s life and career. While he was eventually exonerated, the aftermath of the lawsuit left him in near financial ruin. Sean was not covered by an individual liability insurance policy.
This type of story is more common than you think. In today’s litigious society you can never be too careful. No matter how insolated you think you may be from harm, or the close-knit your community you teach in, misunderstandings, accusations, and accidents are common when working with some else’s children.
While innocent victims like Sean Lanigan try to pick up the pieces of their life and deal with life-changing debts over legal fees, teachers need to see this story as a lesson and obtain a quality individual liability insurance policy to protect their career and livelihood. Membership in a professional association, like the Association of American Educators, provides both individual liability insurance and legal protection to all teachers. In a world where everyone insures their car and home, why would a professional not ensure their career? Loosing certification or a tarnished reputation can be a game changer for an educator left unprotected.
Other professionals, such as medical doctors, would not dream of practicing without liability (or malpractice) insurance. In today’s world, a teacher should not step into a classroom without a liability policy covering them personally.
Partnered with NJCSA, Membership in AAE provides a robust network of legal resources available at the onset of work-place issues. If a student is injured under your watch, or you are thrust into an incident like Sean Lanigan, AAE legal services are just a phone call away. Membership guarantees immediate access to an attorney where you can obtain the professional, personalized advice you need.
The fact is teachers are threatened everyday and the number of lawsuits filed each year grows exponentially. With technology moving at a break-neck pace, teachers are communicating and interacting with students on and off of school property. In reality, with increased interaction, comes the increase of potential accusations of misconduct. You can never be too careful, and membership in AAE provides you peace of mind.
While no one can predict the future, teachers in the modern world need to protect themselves and safeguard their careers. As we settle into the school year, make sure you obtain suitable coverage. Never walk into a classroom without it.