When Are Schools Liable For Child Sexual Assaults?

When Are Schools Liable For Child Sexual Assaults?

When sexual misconduct or assault occurs in a child’s school, victims have legal rights to seek damages against the school and school employees in federal and state civil courts.

Sexual Assaults at School

In Nevada, statutes clearly define guidelines on school child abuse and neglect including acts of sexual assault, misconduct, exploitation, and sex trafficking. Guidelines stipulate that abuse or neglect of a child can also be caused by acts of school administrators, employees, teachers, and volunteers in a school who are not legally responsible for the welfare of the child.

Clark County School District regulations address student mistreatment. If student sexual abuse occurs, the student or the student’s parents should consult with a Nevada child sexual assault attorney. If a teacher’s negligence or acts of abuse or neglect cause harm to a child, the school may be held liable for damages. Generally, school districts are not liable for their teachers’ intentional wrongful acts. However, if schools negligently hire,  supervise, train, or retain the teacher, they may be held liable.

Under Nevada’s doctrine of respondeat superior, schools may also be held liable for acts of negligence committed within the normal scope of a teacher’s employment. Respondeat superior is a form of vicarious liability that can hold an employer liable for the negligent acts or omissions of employees.

In Nevada, respondeat superior applies when: (1) An employee is acting within the ordinary scope of his/her employment, and (2) Injuries occur as the result of an employee’s wrongful actions. Under respondeat superior, a plaintiff is not required to prove an employer’s negligence to win a lawsuit. Since an employer benefits from general employee actions, Nevada law allows employer liability for an employee’s negligent actions.

Over the last decade, federal and state statutes and state tort law has clarified the legal rights and remedies available to child victims of sexual assault and abuse by teachers. Under state statutes, school hiring and training policies, mandatory reporting requirements, and abuse and neglect laws may hold schools liable. Under state tort law, teachers may be held liable for student injuries.

In general, schools have a common law duty to protect the safety of their students and supervise the care of students who are in their physical custody. If a child suffers sexual misconduct or assault while in school, a Nevada child sexual assault attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit against the school.