Personal Injuries on Church Property and During Church Activities – Part 2

A New York court ruled that a school was not liable for an injury to a child who was walking home from school.

Church Law and Tax2003-05-01

Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities

Key point 10-11. A church may be legally responsible on the basis of negligent supervision for injuries resulting from a failure to exercise adequate supervision of its programs and activities.
Negligence as a Basis for Liability

* A New York court ruled that a school was not liable for an injury to a child who was walking home from school. About 15 minutes after he was dismissed from school, a minor was waiting for a public bus at a nearby bus stop when some other students started to throw eggs at him. In response, the minor ran from the sidewalk out into the street, where he was struck by a vehicle. The minor’s parents sued the school, claiming that its negligence in failing to supervise their child caused the injury. A state appeals court disagreed, “Generally, a school’s duty to adequately supervise a student ends when it relinquishes physical custody and control of the student. Consequently, when a student is injured off school premises, the school cannot be held liable for the breach of a duty that extends only to the boundaries of school property. The school established its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that the injured student was safely dismissed from the school premises approximately 15 minutes before the accident, which occurred beyond the boundaries of school property.”

Application. While not every court would agree with this decision, it nonetheless illustrates that churches and schools are not necessarily liable for injuries occurring to minors who are walking home after having been safely dismissed from church or school property. Bowers v. City of New York, 742 N.Y.S.2d 659 (N.Y. App. 2002).

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