Suing for Injuries Caused to Your Children by a Negligent Supervisor

September 14, 2018

Though many parents might want to be able to supervise their children at all times, there are times when children must come under the supervision of another adult, whether in a school setting or through some other arrangement (i.e., childcare center).

Children are naturally curious, and as such, they tend to “attract” injuries.  These tendencies often give rise to situations where children sustain injuries while under the care of a non-parental adult.  Generally speaking, for minor injuries — cuts and scrapes and scratches — this is a non-issue, but in cases where your child has suffered severe injuries, Pennsylvania law may give you a right of action to secure damages on behalf of your child.

What Qualifies as Negligent Supervision of a Child?

Liability for negligent supervision of a child will attach only if there is a duty of supervision that connects the child and the caretaker.

For example, if your child runs off in the supermarket and hurts themselves crawling on a shelf while in the vicinity of a stranger, you cannot hold that strange liable for failing to supervise or otherwise “negligently” supervising your child, as the stranger has no duty to supervise your child.

On the other hand, if you paid a nanny to supervise your child, and he or she crawled on a shelf and injured themselves, then you might be entitled to hold the nanny liable for negligent supervision — the nanny has a clear duty of supervision.

Failure to meet the standard of care — thus violating the duty of supervision and committing negligence — is dependent on the circumstances of the case.  The defendant will only be found to have violated their duty if another caretaker (in the same or similar circumstances) would have acted differently, thus preventing the harm.

Variable Understanding of the Avoidance of Harm

In many negligent supervision cases involving an injured child, the defendant may argue that they cannot be held liable — or that their liability should be reduced — due to the child’s inability or unwillingness to avoid the harm at-issue.  If the child could have and should have avoided the injury-causing harm, then the defendant might thereby minimize their potential liability.

Children cannot necessarily be expected to avoid harms, however, and certainly, children may vary significantly in terms of their developed intelligence and discipline.  In Pennsylvania, as in other states, the courts will determine whether the child’s particular age and development was at a sufficiently high level that the defendant cannot be held liable for the harm.

For example, if your caretaker is supervising your five-year-old child, and negligently allows the child to play on a barbed wire fence, then the caretaker defendant would have quite a difficult time convincing the court that your child “should have” avoided the harm.  5-year-olds are not at a level of development that one can expect them to avoid such harms — even obvious ones.

By contrast, if a friend of yours is supervising your fourteen-year-old child, and your child plays on a barbed wire fence, then the court will likely reduce liability or even absolve the defendant of liability, as a fourteen-year-old can be expected to understand the harm and to make reasonable efforts to avoid it.

Contact a Skilled Stroudsburg Personal Injury Attorney to Arrange a Free and Confidential Consultation

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys boast decades of experience advocating on behalf of those who have sustained injuries due to the negligence or wrongful misconduct of another.

We are a results-oriented firm, and as such, we work closely with clients throughout the litigation process so that we can provide personalized representation that is specifically developed to secure maximum compensation.  This approach has helped us generate a consistent track record of success, with significant case results.

Call (215) 348-2088 today to arrange a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Stroudsburg personal injury attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC.