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August 25, 2016

Pursuing a Personal Injury Case Involving a Child with Disabilities

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Posted in Legal Advice

Before choosing to pursue a personal injury case case involving a child with disabilities, an attorney should be completely familiar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and its implementing regulations. These federal laws provide statutory and regulatory guidance for the procedural and substantive rights of children with disabilities and their parents. An attorney should also be well versed in understanding psychoeducational evaluations, medical and psychiatric terminology of disabilities, educational methodologies, special education eligibility criteria for children of disabilities, special education instruction, services and programming, peer review research on special education and other related topics. What makes special education practice so challenging is that an attorney not only have to know the complex statutory and regulatory laws applicable to this area of the law, but also a host of non-legal disciplinary fields such as psychology, psychiatry, education, statistics, and many other areas affecting students with disabilities. These are some one of the many reasons why there is a paucity of attorneys that choose to concentrate in this area of the law.

Along with the other obstacles to become proficient in special education law and practice, there is the issue of handling concerns and family issues facing parents of children with disabilities. Most parents that have children with disabilities encounter everyday problems of how to address the needs of their children.  These problems may be accessing medical and other health care for their children. There are difficulties of parents accessing and understanding their parental rights to ensure their children receive a free appropriate public education as required by the law.  Further, there are personal trials and tribulations that parents of children with disabilities must address daily with family finances and expenses to pay for the sometimes extraordinary expenses of medical, health, therapies, nursing care, and private educationally related services required for these children.

Finally, can a Lawrenceville, GA special educational attorney make reasonable living pursuing cases involving a child with a disability? The answer is yes and no. Some special education attorneys pursue substantial litigation against school systems on behalf of parents and can recover significant attorney’s fees awards from the courts. The process of pursuing attorney’s fees awards through the courts, however, can be very timing consuming. A few parents can pay a reasonable hourly fee or retainer for an attorney to pursue special education litigation. Other parents qualify for legal aid or other non-profit special education organizations that charge no fee or a small fee. The question for many attorneys is do I want to spend large amount of time becoming a competent and experienced special education attorney. For most attorneys the answer is no. For those attorneys like me that have spent most of their legal career with a legal aid organization and litigated many special education disputes, the answer is that I have no regrets. Special education advocacy and litigation is challenging, rewarding, and can result in making a real difference in the life of children with disabilities. As a private practitioner, the road to financial security is much less secure as a special education attorney. Nonetheless, I have met a number of incredibly resourceful and committed parents of children with disabilities that restore my faith and encourage me to continue the fight for another day.

Thanks to our friend and blog author, Torin D. Togut of Torin Togut Attorney at Law, for his insight into cases involving special education and children with disabilities.

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