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Field Trip Fatality

Feb 1, 2023 | Wrongful Death

Students have access to educational opportunities beyond the classroom through field excursions. Liability is a concern when a field trip fatality happens away from the school. California has made its position on this issue quite plain by granting school districts an exemption for field trips.

Teachers, students, and chaperones release all parties from responsibility for any field trip fatality that may occur. When taking a field trip, both adults and student guardians must sign a liability waiver.

A school is not immune from liability in cases of carelessness. They may use the defense of comparative culpability even in cases of negligence.


When you have a duty to another person, negligence occurs when you either act or do not act. The mere allegation of negligence cannot override a school district’s immunity.

To establish negligence in California, you must demonstrate:

  • An individual had an obligation to act, often known as a duty of care, in this case, probably an employee of the school system.
  • This person violated this obligation either by their acts or inaction
  • This person’s conduct caused another person to suffer harm.
  • The most immediate effect of this person’s actions was an injury to the other party.
  • The other party sustained injuries.

Duties of Care

You must demonstrate that the questioned individual owed you a duty of care and that they were connected to the school system.

Say someone bumps into you while you’re on a field trip and knocks you to the ground. You get your arm broken. There is no proof that any representative of the school district, such as a teacher, was careless in preventing the individual from colliding with you. This person does not correlate with the school district. In this instance, the school district will most likely be immune.

However, you could have a case against the district if a teacher gives you the okay to go into a forbidden area and you stumble and break your arm as a result. Because they instructed you to enter an unapproved place, the instructor in this instance breached their duty of care to you.


You must have an injury to bring a negligence lawsuit. On a field trip, a school bus driver who was speeding violated their duty to the passengers. However, you won’t have a case if their conduct didn’t cause you harm.

Primary Cause

The accident’s primary cause was the individual in question’s carelessness. This implies a causal link between your harm and that person’s irresponsibility. Let’s look at two distinct scenarios using the example of the school bus that was traveling too fast:

  • Your arm is broken when you lose your place on the fast bus. You’ll probably be able to claim carelessness because the bus was traveling too fast.
  • You get off the bus when you reach your field trip location. You trip on a curb about 20 feet from the bus, breaking your arm. Probably, the school district’s immunity will be upheld. Even if the vehicle was speeding recklessly, it would be challenging to prove a connection between the speeding and your travel.

Comparative Neglect

If your negligence caused your injuries, your capacity to seek damages may be within limits in California. This is known as comparative negligence, and California is a state that only considers comparative negligence. This means that you may seek compensation from the opposing party even if they are just 1% at fault.

Referring back to the earlier illustration, a jury may determine that a student contributed to their harm if they were running when they slid after a teacher-led them into a prohibited area.

Contact a Los Angeles Attorney Today

Early on in your connection with a personal injury lawyer, you should disclose these details if you believe you may have contributed to your accident. They can you develop a case that reduces your responsibility for the harm and increases your chance of receiving compensation. Call our office today for a consultation at 310-933-5171.

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