Can Educators Be Held Liable For Student Injuries?
Let’s say that little Sammy is playing on the playground when, all of a sudden, he gets an idea. He decides that, today, he is going to climb over the fence to prove to the other students that it can be done. He does so, and just as he begins running, a car comes out of nowhere and hits Sammy, injuring him badly. The entire time, the teacher on duty was sitting off to the side, playing a game on her cell phone. As you may already know, teachers are vastly responsible for children’s education as well as safety in many cases. Are they legally liable for when a child is injured? This could depend upon many circumstances.
When a child is injured and it becomes the fault of a teacher, this becomes known under “tort law.” Tort law refers to the body of rights and obligations that are applied by courts in civil lawsuits. Torts serve as a way to provide overall relief for wrongs caused by another being. Under tort law, negligence comes into play. There are four elements of negligence, known as Duty, Breach, Causation, and Damages. Here are those elements explained:
Duty: The defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care. A teacher is tasked with the duty of training students, which in some cases can mean that the teacher owes them a duty of care.
Breach: If the defendant acted negligently and did something that a reasonable person would not have done, then they breached that duty of care.
Causation: This occurs when the defendant caused the injury directly or indirectly. A teacher may be to blame for an injury because they either did something or failed to do something. However, not everything that happens at school is in the hands of a teacher. What happens if a child is assaulted in a bathroom, or lightning strikes them on the playground? The teacher cannot then be considered the direct cause of the act of nature.
Damages: The plaintiff must have experienced an actual injury that can be compensated with damages. If there were no medical expenses or other expenses, then there will be no reason for a negligence claim.
In Loco Parentis
In some cases, a term known as in loco parentis may give a better idea of who should be held responsible when an accident like this happens. This means “in place of the parent” and applies to administrators and teachers. When a child is at school, the teacher then has a responsibility to take care of them just as their parent would. Some things considered are the following:
Did the school have a plan and supervision methods to take care of the student at the time?
Did the teacher use reasonable care to make sure the student was not injured?
Was an event that led to the student’s injury foreseeable?
If your child has injured himself or herself at school and you believe it was the fault of a teacher who should have been supervising them, you may have a claim. Many claims are handled in the hands of the court each year for this very reason – call us today to get started. At Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, we care about you and your