Negligent supervision is when someone who has a legal responsibility to supervise others fails to do so in a responsible manner. This can include a wide range of supervisors including teachers, recess monitors, bus monitors, daycare providers, camp counselors, or coaches. Negligent supervision can involve any number of dangerous scenarios. Schools can be found liable for failing to keep children safe from an assault by another student, traffic, pools, dangerous chemicals, and much more.
Proving negligent supervision involves proving many of the same elements of a typical negligence claim. First, the plaintiff must prove that the person or organization accepted the responsibility to supervise a child. Given that students spend so much time at school, schools are often considered to be in loco parentis, a Latin phrase meaning “in the place of a parent”. By virtue of this, schools and daycare centers are considered to have accepted the responsibility to supervise and keep a child safe.
Next, a plaintiff must prove that the teacher or supervisor failed to properly monitor the child. Based on many factors such as the age of a child or nature of the activity, a reasonable person would expect different levels of supervision. Proving this element requires establishing the reasonable standard of supervision, then showing how the teacher or monitor in question failed to meet that standard. Once this is established, the plaintiff must prove that the injury sustained was foreseeable and a direct result of this lack of supervision. In other words, the plaintiff must be able to show that a reasonable caregiver could have seen the incident coming and prevented it from happening.