What Role Does Tort Law Play in School Board Liability Cases?

What Role Does Tort Law Play in School Board Liability Cases?

Tort law, as described by investopedia.com, is the area of law that covers the majority of all civil lawsuits. It can be split into three categories: negligent torts, intentional torts, and strict liability. The concept of this law is to redress a wrong done to a person, usually by awarding them monetary damages as compensation. Tort law is the most common law present in school board liability cases, and provides a framework for determining what the educational management liability exposures are when a school is faced with a lawsuit.

School administrators and teachers may be held legally liable when a student is physically or emotionally injured, whether it is due to an intentional action against the student or due to negligence. A lawsuit can occur even if there is only a perceived injury. Courts will consider a number of factors when determining if school officials were negligent or harmful in any way. These factors include:

  • Did the school have a duty to protect the student?
  • What was the “reasonable standard of care” to apply under the circumstances, and did the school apply that reasonable standard of care?
  • If there was a breach of that reasonable standard, was it a significant factor in causing the student’s injury?
  • Did the victim contribute to the injury through his or her own negligence?
  • Was there an actual injury that can be substantiated?

Tort law claims are typically governed by state laws, however the factors mentioned above must be proven in any case against a school. School board liability cases have increased over the past several years, and this is especially true in the area of tort liability. Serious injury, sexual harassment, bullying, and even wrongful death cases have presented opportunities for large settlements or jury verdicts. The majority of the outcomes have been decided conclusively in favor of the school, however this does not mean this cases shouldn’t be a concern.

School board liability insurance will protect your educational institution financially in the event of a tort law liability claim or any other type of legal claim. Defense costs, legal fees, and any damages awarded can be financially devastating to a school. However in addition to that, a claim can be damaging to the reputation of your facility. Having policies and procedures in place to handle areas of risk is imperative.

At Professional Governmental Underwriters, Inc. (PGUI), our Educational Legal Liability programs cover defense costs in addition to policy limits and offer full prior acts coverage with no retro date to prevent coverage gaps. Please Contact Us today to learn more about how our school board programs can be tailored specifically for your needs.