Negligent supervision is when someone who has a legal responsibility to supervise others fails to do so in a responsible manner. This can include a wide range of supervisors, including babysitters, daycare providers, teachers, camp counselors, coaches, nannies, and church youth group leaders.
Negligent supervision claims can apply to the supervision of children, the supervision of the elderly, and even the supervision of employees. However, negligent supervision claims are most often linked to the injury of a child.
Negligent supervision can involve any number of dangerous scenarios. Daycare providers can be found liable for failing to keep children safe from traffic, pools, animals, dangerous chemicals, firearms, matches, and much more. It can be a matter of allowing a child to do something dangerous (i.e. drive a car or play with matches) or failing to watch closely and prevent them from doing something (i.e. drink a toxic substance).
Proving negligent supervision involves proving many of the same elements as a typical negligence case. First, you must prove that the person or organization in question accepted the responsibility of supervision. (In the case of child supervision, this is generally easy. By virtue of being a babysitter, daycare provider, or parent, you have accepted the responsibility of supervision.)
Second, you must prove that the supervisor failed to properly monitor the child. Based on external factors and the entirety of the circumstances, a reasonable person would expect different levels of supervision. For example, infants and toddlers need more supervision than grade-school children, and children with physical or mental disabilities need closer monitoring. Also, watching a larger number of children requires more supervisors or a more intense level of supervision. Proving this element of negligent usually requires establishing the reasonable standard of supervision, then showing how the supervisor(s) in question failed to meet that standard.
Third, you must prove that the injury was a direct result of the failure to supervise. Lastly, you must prove that the injury was foreseeable; that is, you must show that a reasonable caregiver could have seen this incident coming and prevented it from happening.
Negligent supervision can also apply to taking care of the elderly, typically in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. Nursing home employees can be found liable for failing to report abuse, failing to provide basic hygiene care (resulting in sores or infections), failing to keep track of patients, or failing to prevent falls.
An employer can also be found liable for negligent supervision when its employees engage in reckless behavior. Employers are generally found liable for their employees’ behavior, and if negligent supervision led to the reckless behavior, the employer could certainly be found liable. Negligent supervision of employees can include allowing one employee to harass another, failing to provide training for the use of dangerous tools or chemical, ignoring threats or violence in the workplace, or allowing an employee under the influence of drugs or alcohol to operate machinery.