When are Schools Liable for Students' Injuries?

When we entrust our students to the care of schools, we put faith in the schools' teachers and administrators that they will take all necessary steps to safeguard our children from danger and harm. We expect our children to be protected from danger whether the danger is caused by intentional or negligent acts of others, whether the harm is verbal or physical. But, what does California law require? What is the school district’s liability when a student is injured in physical education class, a sports activity, or by another student?

California courts recognize that a special relationship exists between the school and the students. The schools are under a legal duty to use ordinary care and prudence under the circumstances presented. It has been held by the courts that the schools must “take all reasonable steps to protect its students.” School Districts are responsible for injuries to students caused by the school employees’ failure to use ordinary care. The districts may be responsible for a total lack of supervision or for ineffective supervision.

The following are examples where the Courts have held that school districts owed a duty to supervise and protect its students.   A sixteen year old boy was injured in the locker room when some of the students engaged in a slap boxing fight. The boy fell and hit his head causing a concussion which led to his death. A middle school student suffered a serious facial injury while participating in golf instructions.  The students were not properly supervised because the non-participating students were permitted to stand too close to the students who were swinging the golf clubs and hitting balls.

The circumstances and facts surrounding any injury which occurs during school hours vary greatly.  Whether the school district acted reasonably under the circumstances will depend on a variety of factors including the specific facts surrounding the injury, what led up to the injury, the efforts, if any, taken by the school district to prevent such an injury, and the foreseeability of such an injury to name a few.  The key to successful resolution of claims against school districts, as with any case, is a thorough and prompt investigation of the facts. If you know of a student who has been seriously injured during school hours, the parents should seek immediate legal assistance to investigate the facts and circumstances before witnesses and evidence are lost.  I remain available for free consultations to any parent who has legal questions concerning injuries occurring on school campuses.

Contact Us FREE CONSULTATION
Phone Numbers