After a child is injured at school, one of the first things parents wonder is, who’s responsible? Who’s liable for paying the child’s medical bills after a school injury? To answer these questions requires an understanding of how the law regarding negligence applies to school administrators, teachers, and your child.
Duty of Care
To ensure students receive adequate protection from accidental injuries, the courts place upon school administrators and teachers a legal duty of care (obligation). This duty of care means schools must do everything reasonably possible to protect their students from foreseeable harm, injury, and death.
This duty includes providing a safe environment for students. Authorities must repair or eliminate dangerous conditions in a timely way and make sure students receive proper supervision while they’re on school grounds, on school-provided buses, and while they’re off school grounds during school-sponsored, extracurricular activities.
When a school fails to protect its students from foreseeable harm, the law says it acted negligently. A school’s negligence makes it responsible, or liable, for the injured student’s damages. Damages include the student’s medical, chiropractic and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses for medications, crutches, slings, hospital parking lot fees, etc., lost wages (if the student had a part-time job), and for the student’s (not the parents’) pain and suffering.
In Loco Parentis
In loco parentis (a Latin term meaning “in place of the parent”) is a legal doctrine that applies to school administrators and teachers. The doctrine means that while a child is at school or away on a school-sponsored, extracurricular activity, the teacher has the responsibility and duties of the student’s parents.
While in loco parentis gives teachers latitude in supervising students and student activities, the legal doctrine also opens the door to making teachers and administrators liable for accidents and injuries students sustain while under their supervision.
The Prudent Teacher Doctrine
The prudent teacher doctrine asks what a prudent teacher in the same school or at a similar school would do under the same circumstances that led to the student’s injury. Did the teacher act prudently?
To decide whether a teacher acted prudently, the courts take into account several factors:
Contact An Attorney
If your child was injured while at school due to someone else’s negligence, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced attornies.