Teachers: Do You Know the 4 Ways You Could Be Liable for Your Students’ Injuries?

As a teacher, you carry the weight of several types of responsibility. You are responsible for your students’ welfare, safety, education, and health. You are responsible in a moral sense – and in a legal one. Because of that legal responsibility, you also face a lot of liability.

In Sheehan v. St. Peter’s Catholic School, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled regarding the liability of teachers in America. Liability can be defined as something that someone is responsible for. The case involved an eighth-grade student who had suffered an accidental eye injury during an athletic field trip organized by the school. Even though the primary culprits were clearly other boys in the class who, in the teacher’s absence, began throwing stones at the girls present, the student alleged that it was the school’s responsibility. There was a monetary judgment against the school.

The criteria for a teacher’s liability for student injuries are more clearly stated in Teachers and the Law, written by Fischer, Schimmel, & Stellman. According to these experts, there are four categories of accidents that fall within a teacher’s liability. Here they are:

1. The teachers’ failure to protect the student from injury causes the injury.

2. Negligent behavior on the teacher’s part.

3. The teacher’s carelessness in appropriating due care to ensure student’s safety.

4. The student’s persistent attestable injuries.

A discussion of the issue of teachers’ liability for student injuries is very important because cases of teachers being sued for monetary damages are common. Consequently, teachers should have some form of professional liability insurance to safeguard themselves against such situations. The coverage for such insurance is generally provided by teachers’ unions. Make sure to check with your union about what coverage you have.

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