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School District Liability for Student Injuries Off School Grounds

CrosswalkIn California, in some circumstances, school districts can be held liable for the injury of a child that occurs while he or she is on school grounds. Liability for an injury that occurs off-campus, but is still school-related, however, is more difficult to establish. Fortunately, there are exceptions to the general rule that schools have immunity from liability. As a result, school districts can sometimes be held responsible for injuries sustained by students even if they occur off school grounds, as long as the school breached its duty of care in some way.

Injuries off School Grounds

Generally, schools do not owe a duty of care to students who are not present on campus. For instance, school districts are usually not liable for injuries that are sustained while the child is on a field trip. This is due to the fact that the student is assumed to have waived all claims against the school by attending the activity. There are, however, some exceptions:

School-Sponsored Activities

If a child is injured during an activity that is related to or sponsored by an individual school or the school district, then the school faces potential exposure to liability. To qualify as a school-sponsored activity, the enterprise must require attendance for which class credit may be given. If the event meets this requirement, then, as far as liability is concerned, the injury will be treated as if it had occurred on campus.

Children Leaving School Early

One instance where school districts are responsible for the safety of students off-campus is in regards to leaving school early. Administrators have a duty to make sure that all students who do not have permission to leave campus are reasonably supervised and cannot leave. Furthermore, the school must also take reasonable precautions to ensure that students are not injured as they leave campus after school hours.


In the event that a school has provided transportation to or from the school, the district must still exercise reasonable care to protect the students while they are being transported. The duty of care may also extend beyond the safe disembarkation of the children to their arrival at a reasonably safe destination.

Criminal Assaults

In some cases, school districts are also required to make efforts at preventing third parties from committing foreseeable violent acts upon students. Courts have indicated that prohibiting the wearing of gang colors and confiscating weapons both constitute reasonable efforts at preventing harm to students.

If your child sustained an injury while at school or at a school-sponsored event, and you believe that the school’s negligence may have contributed, please call the dedicated San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free initial consultation.

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