Section 4 - General Liability
This section of the Policy covers the legal liability of the Board of Management under two principal headings:
This insurance indemnifies the Board of Management in respect of its legal liability to its employees viz. teaching staff, secretaries, cleaners, caretakers etc. arising out of and in the course of their employment. In other words, if an employee is deemed to have been injured as a result of the negligence of the Board of Management the Company will undertake to pay legal costs and expenses and damages which may be awarded by a court.
An employer may become legally liable if an employee suffers injury as a result of the Board of Management's (i.e. employer) failure to take reasonable care in the provision of a safe place of work, in failing to provide suitable and safe equipment, in failing to provide a safe system of work.
The employer may also incur a legal liability where one employee is injured as the result of the negligence of another employee.
Cover is provided to a limit of €13,000,000 any one accident (not each person) including all legal costs and expenses.
This insurance indemnifies the Board of Management in respect of its legal liability for accidents to persons (other than its employees) or damage to their property. Public Liability insurance relates to accidents to pupils or other members of the public occurring:
|(i) in or about the school premises and|
|(ii) away from the school premises whilst engaged in a School Related Activity which is defined in the Policy as "any activity usual to a School and which is carried out with the full knowledge and authority of and under the control of the Board of Management/Governors or any other person specifically authorised by them".|
How can the Board be held Legally liable?
Legal Liability (or liability at law) can attach to the Board of Management as a result of accidents arising from:
|a. defects in the school premises, furniture, equipment or other property;|
|b. failure to exercise adequate supervision over the pupils;|
|c. failure to take reasonable care to avoid accidents to pupils or other members of the public;|
|d. failure to ensure that goods supplied (including food and drink consumed on the premises) are fit for the purpose for which they are intended.|
How does the policy protect the Board?
If a pupil or other person is deemed to have been injured as a result of the negligence of the Board of Management, the Company will undertake to pay legal costs and expenses and damages which may be awarded by a court. The maximum amount that the Company will pay is known as the Limit of Indemnity. The Limit of Indemnity under the Custodian School Protection policy for most schools is €13,000,000 in respect of any one accident (not any one person) including all related legal costs and expenses..
Liability - General
Does the policy cover any accident or incident?
Some accidents are inevitable in life and it is not sufficient for an accident to have happened for a claim to be successful. The injured party must be able to prove that the injury or damage resulted from the action (or inaction) of another, and that "a duty of care" existed.
Are the children covered?
The policy indemnifies the Patron, Trustees and Board of Management in relation to their legal liability to ALL persons - including children.
Are pupils on Work Experience covered?
In normal circumstances the employer with whom the pupil is placed will be liable for injury to and for the actions of the pupil. If any liability ultimately attaches to the school or Board of Management then this is covered by the policy.
Are the teachers covered?
Just as for children, the policy indemnifies the Patron, Trustees and Board of Management in relation to their legal liability to all persons - including teachers.
The Policy also covers the legal liability of teachers in accordance with the respective agreements between the Catholic Primary School Managers' Association, the I.N.T.O, the Secretariat of Secondary Schools and the A.S.T.I.
Are parents covered?
Parents are covered in the same way as their children viz. the policy covers the Board of Management in relation to their legal liability to ALL persons - including parents. Parents, however, on some occasions act under the direction and control of the Board and, in this capacity, the liability of parents is also covered. When they undertake work for the Board of Management they are, in effect, the employees of the Board.
Does Liability insurance always become 'confrontational'?
No, many claims are settled without recourse to a hearing in a court of law. However, liability insurance reflects the legal system. Under the Irish legal system, for any person to succeed in a legal action against a school, he/she must be able to prove, in a court of law if necessary, that the injury or damage he/she has suffered is as a result of the negligence of another person/party.
In the case of a school, an injured person must be able to prove that the Board or any person acting on its behalf caused their injury or damage. We are, therefore, involved in legal argument which by its very nature is 'confrontational'.
Why does it sometimes seem that the Company is against us?
This is the problem with a 'confrontational' legal system. We have to deal with a liability claim as a legal argument and we recognise that, at times, the result is traumatic and difficult for the member of the Board of Management or the teacher. We try to be sensitive to this and we do understand the difficulties. Remember that however you feel about the claim we are on YOUR side.
What is negligence?
Negligence has been defined in law as 'the omission to do something which a reasonable person would do or doing something which a reasonable person would not do'. The 'reasonable person' is 'the ordinary person in the street'.
This means that we all owe a 'duty of care' to ensure that all our actions are reasonable.
What is meant by the term Duty of Care?
An eminent judge once used the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate that in law, as in life, we owe a responsibility to our neighbour. This legal responsibility requires that what we do (or not do) must be reasonable and causes neither injury nor damage. This legal responsibility is known as the 'Duty of Care'.
A school, therefore, has a duty of care to:
|(i) ensure that the premises, grounds, furniture and equipment are safe and free from any defect likely to cause injury or damage;|
|(ii) take such care of the pupils as a sensible, careful and solicitous parent would take if placed in circumstances similar to those which pertain in a school (this is known in law as 'in loco parentis').|
Failure to take the required duty of care resulting in injury or damage may render the school and/or Board of Management liable to pay compensation.
Does the policy only cover claims following negligence?
No. The policy covers the legal liability of the Board of Management. A legal liability can arise in Nuisance and Trespass as well but most claims are made in respect of Negligence?
If Nuisance is covered why is it shown in the Policy as an 'Additional Cover'?
In the main body of Section 4, the legal liability of the Board of Management to the public is qualified to cover only 'Accidental' injury or damage which implies a sudden and unforeseen happening.
Nuisance, in law, is interference for a substantial period of time with the use of or enjoyment of property or land. An example would be neighbours taking a legal action against the Board of Management to stop balls coming into their gardens.
You will note that the neighbours want the activity to stop rather than compensation. This is why the limit is limited to €320,000.
Are there any qualifications on the policy?
As we have stated, the legal liability of the Board of Management to the public is limited to:
|a. Accidental bodily injury or disease and|
|b. Accidental loss or damage to property.|
The word Accidental is most important as it excludes any intentional, malicious, criminal or fraudulent action.
What about legal fees and other costs?
The policy includes all legal costs and expenses incurred in the defence of a claim against the Board of Management as well as damages and costs awarded against the Board. The maximum amount that the Company will pay, however, is the Limit of Indemnity.
A person taking a legal action against a teacher or the Board of Management which is unsuccessful will be responsible for his/her own costs.
Who decides liability?
The court is the ultimate arbiter in all disputes. Other cases may be settled out of court on the recommendation of our legal advisors as to award of damages and costs.
What about groups using the school outside school hours?
The policy protects the Board of Management in respect of its legal liability to users of the school outside hours. Claims usually arise as a result of defects in the premises. The group or other persons, however, can incur their own liabilities arising out of their activities and they should have their own insurance.
What if the groups or persons using the school do not have or cannot get insurance?
It is doubtful that they cannot get insurance. What they generally mean is that the cost of insurance is outside their financial means.
Allianz recognises that schools rely for financial support on outside groups or persons using the school outside hours.
The policy, therefore, has been extended to include cover for these groups and persons but the cover provided is limited. They are still advised to arrange their own insurance.
What about Parent/Teacher Association meetings and activities?
The policy protects parent / teacher associations for school related activities only. Such associations should be advised to seek their own insurance for non school related activities.