Sending your child off to attend school for the first time can be an intimidating experience for both child and parents. Usually, the children get to school and enjoy making new friends and learning new things. However, in the case that something does go wrong, and your child is hurt on school property, it can be difficult to find out whom to hold responsible for their injuries.
Was Your Child Injured in a ‘Slip and Fall’ or a ‘Trip and Fall’?
Ontario law requires all tenants of a property to make sure that students are reasonably safe while on the property. This applies to school boards such as the Toronto District School Board or York Region District School Board, who occupy school properties in the GTA. If your child has been injured through slipping and falling on ice or snow, or tripping and falling because of slippery grounds or unrepaired defects in the pavement, or lack of child supervision, you could have a claim against the school. However, to be able to sue the school, injury to a person must have been predictable, and the school must have acted below a certain standard. In the following article, we explain the laws surrounding school liability in these situations.
Was Your Child Injured by Another Child?
Suing the Violent Child
If another student injured your child, there are many options you can take. Suing the violent student for assault is possible depending on their age, but it is difficult to prove that a young child intended to cause harm or understood the consequences of their actions. If a claim is won against a violent student, that student’s parents’ home or other insurance policies may cover the damages.
Suing the Parents of the Violent Child
It is also possible to sue the violent child’s parents for negligence. This is a more difficult claim to prove for schoolyard injuries, as it must be proven that the parents knew of their child’s tendency for violence and did not take steps to stop their child from behaving violently. What needs to be shown is that the parents had the chance to stop the harm from happening, and failed to do so. When a parent is not in the schoolyard to stop their child from attacking, it is difficult to prove that a parent was negligent, as responsibility for the child will typically pass to the school supervisors.
Suing the School Board: What Standard do School Staff Have to Meet?
School boards, principals and teachers are held responsible for student safety under Ontario law, and they have a duty to act as a “prudent parent” would. This means that when students are in their care, the school staff must look out for the children’s safety, up to the standard of a parent who is both reasonable and prudent. Keep in mind, however, that supervisors do not have to act perfectly. If your child’s injury could not have been prevented by a reasonable and prudent parent, it is unlikely that the courts will hold a supervisor responsible for injuries. If a child is injured suddenly and unexpectedly, it is unlikely that the school will be found liable. If there was ongoing rough behavior between children before the injury occurs, and there was time for a teacher to intervene and prevent the injury, it is more likely that the school will be found liable.
Principals have a special duty to ensure that there are enough teachers supervising in the playground. How many teachers are enough is decided by many factors, such as the size of the yard, the number of students, and school board recommendations. If a principal fails to have enough supervisors, the school board may be liable for negligence.
If the principal has enough teachers supervising, the behaviors of those supervisors must be looked at next. If there are enough teachers, and they are all supervising correctly, it is unlikely that the school board will be found liable. However, if the supervisor fell below the standard of a reasonably prudent parent, the school board may be liable for negligence. The law also prefers that trained staff supervise children, so if an untrained volunteer was in charge of supervising your child when the injury occurred, the school may be more likely to be found liable.
How Likely is it that the School Board will be Found Responsible?
School supervisors, usually teachers, are in charge of keeping students safe, even from other students, while on school grounds. However, as mentioned above, supervisors are only held to the standard of a careful and prudent parent. They do not have to be perfect. Canadian courts have decided that there is no duty that teachers constantly supervise students, even if a student has a history of violent behavior.
The standard that supervisors have to follow is flexible, and depends on the size of the area to be supervised, the number and ages of the students, and the type of activity in progress. For example, a teacher would be less likely to be found responsible for a student injuring themselves by catching a ball wrongly in gym class. That same teacher would be more likely to be found responsible if a student was injured by climbing on top of their desk during quiet reading time.
Typically, to find a school board responsible for an injury between children, the likelihood of injury must have been foreseeable and preventable by a supervisor. It will be difficult to find a school board responsible if a student pushes another student to the ground suddenly and unexpectedly. It would be easier to find the school responsible if the rough behavior between two children continued for a period of time long enough that a supervisor should have seen it, and the supervisor could have stopped the injury if they had been paying attention at the time.
If your child has been injured, you and your child deserve compensation. At the law office of Mr. Kamyab, we understand the difficult time your family is going through, and we have a proven history of getting our clients the compensation they deserve. Your child should never be injured due to the negligence of others.
Contact us today for a free consultation.