Negligent Supervision, Hiring, and Training
If nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic has taught us that if our children are not in school or daycare, then it is almost impossible for parents to work. America has become a country where two-income households are the norm, and single parents are striving to provide the highest standard of living that they can for their child or children.
The most common situation where a parent trusts a stranger to ensure the safety of their child is public or private schools. Most schools provide care for at least seven hours a day, with direct care for the child shifting between teachers, teacher’s assistants, playground staff, cafeteria staff, and other school personnel. All of these people must be competent and well-trained to tend to the welfare of their students. The state puts in place regulations that schools and daycares must follow to keep your children safe. Sometimes, proper care and attention is not given to children, causing them to be hurt.
For lawsuits against public schools, there are requirements and limitations. The injured party must give the school district notice of the suit within 180 days of the injury, in contrast with the general three-year filing deadline for personal injury claims. Additionally, the school district’s liability is limited to $400,000 per individual. Suing a negligent private school is much less complex, as they are treated just like any other non-governmental entity.
School is not the only situation where parents place this level of trust in caretakers. Other common childcare situations include:
- Church Sunday schools and youth groups
- Daycare and preschool
- Camps, including weekend camps, summer camps, and day camps
- Employment of nannies, babysitters, and other in-home caregivers
- Coaches for sports or authority figures in other organized play situations
As the list above makes clear, there are a multitude of situations where your child’s care and safety is dependent upon another adult. In these situations, you expect adequate supervision. When another individual takes responsibility for your child, there are certain reasonable expectations you can make regarding the level of supervision your child will receive. Though not expressly delineated in certain states, and with different parameters in different jurisdictions, it is reasonable to expect the supervising adult will provide a level of care consistent with the needs of the child. This means that the child’s capabilities will be the central governing factor in determining the level of supervision necessary.
There are a variety of factors regarding the child’s capabilities that bear on adequate supervision, including:
- The age of the child; as a general rule, younger children require more direct supervision.
- The potential dangers of the environment and activity; children are more likely to suffer injury on playground equipment than in the lunch room. Similarly, loading a school bus in a busy parking lot is significantly more dangerous for children than working on math problems.
- Interpersonal relationships; if the child is known to be the victim of bullying, an expectation of closer supervision is reasonable.
- Developmental disabilities; children with a developmental disability often require closer supervision than other children.
This is not an exhaustive list. There are many other factors that can play a determining role in what level of supervision is appropriate. The key concept is that when we are trusting another individual with the care of our child, we are trusting them to take all reasonable steps to prevent injury from occurring.
If your child has been injured or suffered from an accident due to negligent supervision, it can be difficult to know how to proceed as you wrestle with your own feelings regarding your child’s injury. Many parents feel guilty for not protecting their children even when they are in someone else’s care. As important as it is to work through these emotions, it is equally as important that you hold the negligent parties to account for the injuries that they caused. Call us for a free consultation today.