Who Do You Take Action Against If Your Child Is Seriously Injured At School? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Monday, 16 October 2017

Who Do You Take Action Against If Your Child Is Seriously Injured At School?

#AskStevenWilder

School teachers and administrators have a difficult job looking out for the safety of the child parents entrust to them each and every day. When accidents happen and a child is seriously injured the primary concern for parents is their child’s wellbeing. Later, after the child receives the medical care and attention needed, concerns arise about what action can be taken and who is liable.

Negligence and injuries suffered at school

As a general rule, someone suffering an injury is entitled to receive compensation from another party whose negligence was the cause of the accident. This same principle holds true with schools and school officials.

Teachers, administrators and members of school boards can be held responsible for a student’s injuries if they were negligent. Proving negligence requires evidence of the following:

  • Existence of a duty of care owed to the student
  • Breach of the duty of care
  • The student suffered damages
  • The breach of duty was the proximate cause of the injury suffered by the student

Identifying and proving the existence of a duty of care can be difficult, but in cases in which a child is injured at school, but court decisions have established a reasonably prudent parent doctrine to define the duty of care owed to students. Under the doctrine, school personnel must protect students from reasonably foreseeable risks that could harm them.

Applying the reasonably prudent parent doctrine depends upon the unique facts of each case. Courts have said a teacher’s liability under the doctrine is determined by the consideration of the following three factors:

  • The age of the students being supervised by a teacher;
  • The number of students being supervised; and
  • The type of activity or exercise in which the students were engaged.

A teacher supervising a classroom of students in a high school might not breach the duty of care by stepping into the hallway to talk to a student for a moment. However, a teacher supervising a group of third graders at a playground might breach it by leaving the children unattended.

Types of foreseeable risks at schools

There is any number of conditions existing within and around school buildings that could pose a foreseeable risk of harm to students, including:

  • Playground equipment
  • Failing to maintain school grounds
  • School bus accidents
  • Lack of supervision

Faulty playground equipment or inadequately maintained equipment can cause serious injuries due to falls and other types of accidents. Improperly removing snow and ice from sidewalks and steps can lead to a child being injured.

Vicarious liability expands responsible parties

The legal principle of vicarious liability allows employers to be held liable when the negligent conduct of their employees causes injury to others. The limitation to the application of vicarious liability is the conduct of the negligent employee must be within the scope of employment.

For example, a school board could be held liable if a teacher strikes and injures a student while in class. However, if it happened away from school property and was not connected to a school activity, the actions of the teacher would be considered as being outside the scope of employment.

What to do when accident happen

If your child is injured at school, thepersonal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamond have the experience and knowledge to determine from the facts and evidence the proper parties to take action against. Their success obtaining compensation for people who have been injured due to the negligence of others is unsurpassed. Don’t delay, contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices throughout Ontario.

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