Can Educators Be Held Liable for Student Injuries?

When you pick up your little bundle of joy from school, you never want to see them injured. Children like to do crazy things – they climb over the fence, jump as high as they can, or start running races to impress their friends. Although this is stuff that kids may be doing naturally as part of their growth, it can be dangerous. Your child might fall and hurt themselves, or get injured by different objects.

Teachers are responsible for all children’s safety and education, and caring for so many kids at once can be a real challenge for some educators. What happens when a child gets injured on the teacher’s watch, though? Can the teacher be held liable?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Can an Educator Be Held Liable for a Student’s Injuries?

Whether an educator can be held liable for a student’s injuries or not depends on a few factors. More specifically, it depends on what the teacher did or did not do, how the injury happened, and what the proof says.

It’s not uncommon for students to get injured at school, but teachers can only be held responsible in certain situations. To put it simply, all the elements of negligence must be proven to determine that a teacher is responsible for torts.

When a teacher is at fault for a child getting injured, it is known under “tort law”. This law refers to the body of obligations and rights that are applied in civil lawsuits by the court. With torts, relief can be brought for issues caused by another individual. Negligence is a big factor involved in tort law.

What Are the Four Elements of Negligence?

There are four elements of negligence in total, respectively:

  • Breach

When a defendant was negligent and did something that a prudent person wouldn’t have done, it means that they breached their duty of care.

Basically, all reasonable teachers would do whatever they can to prevent letting children get injured. However, in a tort case, an educator-defendant is unsuccessful in doing this, which is where the breach is proven.

  • Damages

When it comes to damages, the plaintiff must experience an injury that can be compensated and can be remedied with damages. Injury is not enough to have a case – when there is no compensable harm to the child, then there may be no negligence claim at all. For instance, compensable harm could include medical expenses.

When it is proven that a teacher was negligent, this is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s also possible to target districts and schools. Depending on whether the school is private or public, you can target them as well.

  • Causation

Causation is usually the case when the defendant directly or indirectly caused the injury. For instance, let’s say that the teacher was unable to do something or did something that led to the injury. So, the teacher will be to blame in this situation.

However, there are also some things to keep in mind. The teacher is not the only one that is responsible for what happens at school, nor are the school administrators.

Let’s say that your child is having problems with another child in a situation that may include bullying. Following an argument, the children involved begin to fight physically, and your child is injured during the altercation. If the teacher did something to cause this or did nothing to prevent it, it may be considered an indirect or proximate cause of injury.

But for example, if a child at school is injured as a result of a lightning strike, the educator cannot be held liable for it, because this is an act of nature that the teacher has no control over.

  • Duty

The defendant owns the plaintiff a duty of care. When we do things that may put other people in danger, such as driving, we owe a duty of care to each other.

Therefore, teachers owe a duty of care to their students considering they are in a position where they have to train their students.

Final Thoughts

In 2022, Oregon had 29,379 students in public schools. All these teachers must make sure that their students are safe at all times. But if your child was injured at school in the state of Oregon and you think the teacher is responsible due to action or inaction, you should hire a Portland personal injury attorney and seek justice for your little one.

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