My Child Was Injured on a School Field Trip. Is the School Liable?

Too often, supervisors with no adequate child safety training chaperone school field trips.

Between lack of knowledge about child safety and looking after children they’re unfamiliar with,

chaperones are at high risk of being negligent. No one can predict a bus accident, but many field

trip injuries are 100% preventable. If your child sustains an injury on a field trip, the courts may

hold a negligent party responsible for damages.


Negligence and Child Injury Cases


Parents should reasonably expect organizations to take care of children during field trips. Parents

have the right to assume chaperones will take due care to ensure the children’s well-being. When

a school employee or chaperone fails in this duty, parents understandably want compensation for

resultant injuries. However, the courts may or may not hold a school responsible for injuries

during a field trip, depending on the facts of each case.


In California, the Education Code includes a provision that grants school districts absolute

immunity for personal injury claims on field trips. Provision 35330 states that those on the field

trip waive all claims against the school district for illness, injury, or death during field trips.

However, this provision is ambiguous in regard to negligent employees.


Field trips where district personnel breached their legal duty to keep students reasonably safe

may give parents the opportunity to obtain compensation. Proving negligence is the most

important step in these cases. In a field trip injury case, you must prove the school district

breached its reasonable duty and that your child sustained an injury because of this negligence.

A permission slip or waiver stating you will not hold the school responsible for any injuries your

child sustains during a field trip doesn’t necessarily protect a school and its employees. These

release forms typically apply in cases where no one could have reasonably foreseen or prevented

the injury, as in cases of pure accident. If, however, you prove an employee’s gross negligence

caused the injury, the courts may not see the release form as valid protection.


When Does the Court Hold a School Liable?


The factors a court looks at to determine if a school is liable for a field trip injury vary on a case-

by-case basis. A few common factors that influence the decision include:



Many state laws protect public schools from liability for field trip injuries, while private schools

do not have the same protection. However, many private schools use permission slips that may

have the same effect.


The courts will most likely hold a school liable for the actions of its employees when an incident

involving gross negligence causes a child’s injuries. Gross negligence means the school failed to

take obvious safety measures that even a careless person would have taken. If you have evidence

that a school or employee could have prevented your child’s injuries had they taken due

precautions, the courts may find the school responsible, regardless of the rules in the Education

Code or if there were permission slips.


Call an Experienced Child Injury Lawyer Near You


California’s child injury laws are complex. Your best chance at receiving compensation for your

child’s injuries is to hire an experienced local lawyer who specializes in school district

negligence. At Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP, we have years of experience filing claims against

school districts in Los Angeles, Irvine, and beyond. To find out if you have a case against your

child’s school for a field trip injury, call (877) 800-1700 for a free consultation.