School's Failure To Supervise Students

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Can My Child's School Be Liable for Injury for Lack of Supervision?

A school or teacher may be liable for injuries a student suffers from lack of supervision. Generally, there are two main questions in lack of supervision cases:

  1. Did the school have a duty to supervise the student?
  2. Was this duty satisfied?

When Might a School Have a Duty to Supervise?

A school is not an insurer of a student's safety, but a school does have a duty to exercise reasonable supervisory care for the safety of students and may be liable for injuries resulting from the failure to supervise. This duty applies to both public and private schools.

A school does have a duty to supervise pupils during lunch or recess periods on the theory that injury is generally foreseeable when young persons in groups are left unattended during free periods. Similarly, a school may have a duty to supervise children before or after school hours if kids are in groups where dangerous activities could be reasonably expected to occur.

What Injuries Can the School Be Liable For?

The duty to supervise is limited only to those injuries that are foreseeable. If the type of injury is not something that would generally be expected from the event or activity that caused the injury, the school cannot be liable for a failure to supervise students. For example, one court found it unforeseeable that a student would be intentionally kicked by another student following a basketball game.

Was the Duty to Supervise Reasonably Satisfied?

A school will only be liable if proper supervision could have prevented the injury. There is no liability if proper supervision could not have prevented the injury. For example, in a case where a student was hit in the eye with a paperclip, the court found that proper supervision of the children could have prevented the injury. Sudden, spontaneous acts may still give rise to liability because just the presence of a supervisor may have prevented the act.

Should I Consult an Attorney about Failure to Supervise?

A suit for failure to supervise students can be complex and difficult to prove. Additionally, the school may have defenses to avoid liability. A personal injury attorney can help explain the law and protect your rights so that you can collect damages for your child's injuries.

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Last Modified: 01-22-2014 11:20 AM PST

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