Ashley’s Law Could Ease Caps on Damage Awards Against School Districts

Pennsylvania lawmakers may be ready to correct a wrong and lift an arbitrary damage cap that punished one young woman simply for getting hurt on school grounds.

In 2007, Ashley Zauflick was seriously injured when she was run over by an out-of-control school bus while on school grounds in the Pennsbury School District. Zauflick was in a coma for over a month and eventually had to have her left leg amputated above the knee.

Despite winning her lawsuit against the school district, Zauflick’s award was limited due to an archaic law on Pennsylvania’s books that capped damage awards against school districts. Now, two legislators are looking to fix it and plan on introducing a bill into the Pennsylvania General Assembly that would ease the limits currently place. The law would be named Ashley’s Law.

School District Caps on Damages No Longer Serve Intended Purpose

After winning her suit against the school district in December, Zauflick was awarded $14 million to cover medical and rehabilitation costs as well as pain and suffering. The district contends that a law currently in place prevents them from paying more than $500,000 in awards, regardless of the fact that the school carried a $10 million umbrella insurance policy at the time of the accident.

Originally, caps were in place to protect school districts from becoming bankrupt during a lawsuit. Challengers of the existing law contend that the current law is antiquated since insurance policy rates are relatively affordable and can provide enough coverage to protect both the school district and provide for the victim in accidents like Ms. Zauflick’s.

In addition, challengers argue that Ms. Zauflick is being victimized twice: once with the accident which requires her to receive life-long medical care and again with a cap that would reduce the awarded compensation and make paying for that care almost impossible.

Pennsylvania Reps. John Galloway and Steve Santarsiero, who represent the towns within the Pennsbury School District, want to address the law on behalf of Ashley. They understand that the $500,000 limitation does not adequately reflect the medical expenses associated with a catastrophic injury like an amputation injury, let alone pain and suffering. If the law is passed, this limitation may be removed, or a new, more reasonable limit may be set.

If you or a loved one is involved in a catastrophic or serious accident that results in an amputation, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced amputation lawyer to ensure all your legal rights and remedies are protected.