Tort Liability and Contract Liability.

Essay by angiedmusicgirlUniversity, Master'sB+, September 2003

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Tort Liability and Contract Liability

A tort is a legal term for "a wrong." The "tort law" is composed of state statutes and court decisions that gives one the right to sue someone who causes harm to them, whether it's a drunk driver, a corporation that manufactures a defective product, a credit card company that overcharges you, or a government bureaucrat that breaks the law or a school official such as a teacher or principal. The law of the state in which the school is located determines a school's legal responsibility for supervision during instructional time and school-sponsored activities. In most instances, the way its state courts have interpreted the law developed through cases tried in its courts rather than law passed by its legislature. This means there is no one uniform standard of legal liability that applies to all U.S. educational entities. Additionally, there currently is no specific federal law in this area with which a school must comply.

However, there are some general principles that most state courts follow that provide some guidance to help determine if a school is providing adequate supervision in the eyes of the law. Because these principles may vary from state to state, a school's legal counsel is the best guide as to whether a school's particular supervision/emergency care plan will be deemed adequate if challenged in a state's courts.

The law apportions torts into three classes: negligence, strict liability (where one's duty is defined in statute), and intentional torts. Most of what follows deals with the theory of liability that arises in a school context under the tort of negligence. The most common legal claim that is made against a school is that the school was negligent in the provision of that care. In most states, to prove a school was...