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Defining and Determining Liability

Liability Explained

Liability is the school district’s legal responsibility for damages arising from the negligent actions, errors and omissions of the District’s board, employees, volunteers and its agents (i.e., PTAs, PTOs, and booster clubs).

Liability can arise from a wide range of District activities, including:

  1. Activities that may occur on District premises or on private or public property, for example:
    On District Property: District liability could be an issue if a child is injured on the playground and the parent claims play equipment was faulty or the child was inadequately supervised.
    Off District Premises: District liability could arise on field trips if a student is injured and the parent claims there was inadequate supervision or if damages to a third party (person or property) occur as a result of students actions.
  2. Activities in which the District participates with other organizations and act as a sponsor or co-sponsor, for special events such as fundraising events, educational fairs and parades.
  3. Activities in which an employee or authorized agent fails to follow established District policy and procedures during, for example hiring procedures, dismissal and student discipline. Damages that give rise to a liability claim generally fall under these three categories.

The types of damages that give rise to a liability claim generally fall under the following categories:

  • Property damage
  • Bodily injury–includes any damages to a person’s physical well being, including illness, injury or death.
  • Personal injury–includes non-physical damages such as libel, slander, malicious prosecution and violations of a person’s civil rights, such as harrassment or unfair hiring or firing practices.

Other types of claims or losses can occur that are not the result of district negligence. Sometimes these claims may be covered by other insurance policies or by a District self-insurance program. For information about other coverages that may be offered or provided by the district, contact Risk Management Services.

Determining Liability

Liability can be difficult to determine:

  • Almost any incident in which damage or injury occurs could give rise to a liability claim.
  • It is not the injury or damage that has occurred that determines liability. It is the conditions under which the injury or damage occurred and whether the injured party claims negligence that determine if liability is an issue.

For Example
A school visitor slips and falls on a floor that has just been mopped, breaking her wrist. This may or may not be a situation in which a liability issue arises, depending on whether or not:

  • The injured party claims the school was negligent.
  • The school had posted signs that the floor was wet and slippery