Legal Blog

Child Personal Injury – When Can You Sue for Negligent Supervision?

Attorney David I. Fuchs

Author

Attorney David I. Fuchs

Date

Sep. 16, 2016

Category

News

Children need to be properly supervised to ensure their safety, as their curious natures tend to expose them to a significant risk of unintentional injury or even death.  In today’s busy world, however, most parents cannot directly supervise their children at all times.  Third-party supervision of children is commonplace.  Children are frequently monitored by their teachers, babysitters, daycare providers, camp counselors, and other third-party caregivers. 

Ideally, a third-party caregiver will properly supervise your child, but what if your child is injured while under their care? In the state of Florida, the parents of a child who is injured while in the care of a third-party may be entitled to sue for negligent supervision.

If you are a parent or guardian of a child who has been injured as a result of negligent supervision, you have four years from the date of the injury-causing event to file the lawsuit. Contact an injury attorney from David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. to discuss your legal options. (954) 568-3636.

The Elements of a Negligent Supervision Case

Negligent supervision claims are based on certain fundamental elements of negligence, which requires the existence of a duty of care between the involved parties, and a breach of said duty.

Duty of care.

The plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty of care to the child.  To establish this duty in a negligent supervision case, you must be able to show that the defendant accepted supervisory responsibility over the child.  The existence of a dutyi of care may be presumed depending on the relationship – for example, a teacher-student relationship – even without explicit acceptance of responsibility.

Breach of the duty of care.

The plaintiff must show that the defendant breached their duty of care by failing to provide adequate supervision – in other words, by negligently supervising the child.  What constitutes adequate or reasonable supervision depends somewhat on the circumstances of the case.

For example, suppose that your child is injured at summer camp.  The camp counselor took the children to a lake and allowed them to swim.  As they were swimming, the camp counselor received a phone call and became inattentive for several minutes.  Your child struggled during the swim and nearly drowned (causing injuries).  Given the circumstances, a court would likely find that by allowing himself to be distracted for several minutes while children were swimming in the lake, the camp counselor is liable for negligent supervision.

On the other hand, if the camp counselor was distracted for a much shorter time, perhaps by someone calling his name, then his level of inattentiveness may not have actually been inadequate.

The mere fact of a child’s injury while under supervision does not lead to a finding of negligent supervision.  It is not uncommon for children to find creative ways to injure themselves even with adequate supervision.  If the circumstances point to inadequate supervision, however, then a skilled personal injury attorney will attempt to argue the facts of the case in your favor.

Causation.

Finally, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of the duty of care – their negligence – substantially caused the child’s injuries.  A defendant cannot be held liable for negligent supervision if the events that caused the child’s injuries were not reasonably foreseeable.

For further clarification, consider this example.

Suppose that you have hired a professional nanny to take care of your child.  One day, the nanny is taking your child out for a walk in the neighborhood.  The nanny becomes distracted for a moment, and during this time, your child steps on a loose stone in the sidewalk, which breaks and causes your child to fall, injuring himself.  The loose stone blended in with the sidewalk and was not readily identifiable.

Despite the fact that the nanny was inattentive and possibly breached their duty of care, the injury itself was likely not a result of the nanny’s negligent supervision.  As the loose stone was not readily identifiable or visible to the naked eye, even if the nanny had been properly supervising the child, the injury would have occurred.  It is unlikely that you would be able to successfully sue the nanny for negligent supervision here.

If you believe that your child has been injured as the result of a third-party’s negligent supervision, seek legal guidance from the skilled Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys at David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A..  Your child may be entitled to reasonable compensation for their injuries.