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School District Liability for Student Injuries

A TeacherChildren are notorious for being accident-prone. Some injuries, however, such as those sustained while at school or a school-sponsored event, may not actually be the child’s fault. This is because California imposes a duty to supervise on the employees, teachers, and administrators of school districts. This duty applies to teachers and other employees while students are on school premises during the week. If that responsibility is breached, the school district may be liable for any resultant injuries.

Standard of Care

The standard of care required of school district employees is that degree of care “which a person of ordinary prudence, charged with (comparable) duties, would exercise under the same circumstances.” This requires more than the mere presence of a teacher or school employee in a supervisory role. Rather, teachers must take care to avoid foreseeable and dangerous situations, even if a specific accident has not occurred.

The degree of care necessary in overseeing student activities will vary depending on the age and maturity of the students involved. For instance, schools have more responsibility towards students with special needs.

Duty to Supervise

Public school teachers have a general legal duty to supervise their students in order to maintain an environment that is safe and conducive to learning. To this end, teachers must “hold pupils to a strict account for their conduct on the way to and from school, on the playgrounds, or during recess.”

Furthermore, teachers and administrators are allowed to use reasonably necessary physical restraint in order to ensure the safety of all students. The area over which teachers have supervisory duties includes places outside the classroom. If a teacher is not available to supervise, the duty falls to the site administrator present at the time to ensure that students are safe.


Because most government employees are granted immunity from liability in certain situations, the procedures required in bringing a lawsuit against a school district must be followed with exactness. If the correct procedures are not adhered to, then the lawsuit could be dismissed or barred.

In order to bring a suit against a school district, the injured party must file a formal claim with the school within six months of the injury. The claim must describe the nature of the accident and resulting injuries so that the incident can be properly investigated. Once the claim has been filed, no action can be taken until the school has denied the claim or a specific amount of time has passed without action by either party.

If your child has been injured while at school or at a school-sponsored event, an experienced attorney can help you and your child recover compensation for the injuries. Please call the skilled San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation.

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