4.1. Vicarious Liability
Vicarious liability refers to an employer’s liability for the negligent acts of its employees pursuant to s 32I of the CLA. Schools are vicariously liable for the acts of their teachers or other employees in the course of their employment (‘authorised acts’) as well as unauthorised acts so connected with authorised acts that they may be regarded as modes, albeit improper modes, of executing an authorised act. This remains the case even if the school has expressly prohibited the way in which the teacher performed the act.
In the case of public schools, as agents of the government, the Crown has established policy in relation to Crown acceptance of legal liability. The Crown accepts full and sole responsibility for all claims where the employee has diligently and conscientiously endeavoured to carry out their assigned duties.
4.2 Non-delegable liability
Under general negligence principles, once an employee’s actions fall outside the scope of the duties appointed to them, their employer is not liable. Under a number of circumstances, however, the employer will be liable to people in their care for injuries that are caused by the tort of their delegates. The relationship between teachers and their pupils is one such circumstance. Courts have taken a strict view of the duty to ensure reasonable care is taken for ensuring students safety. The High Court of Australia has said this duty is non-delegable.
The concept of non-delegable duty does not extend sofar as to say that a school authority will be responsible for any harm that befalls a student. Non- delegable duties of school authorities include the engagement of reliable, carefully screened and properly trained employees, the p...
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...s and their relationship with students do not fall under this category and therefore students can claim damages under the Act.
6.1 Compensatory Damages: Hospital, medical and care expenses
The basic principle underlying an award of general damages for future hospital, medical and care expenses is that the plaintiff is compensated for all expenses that it would be reasonable to incur in treating her or his injuries or in coping with her or his disabilities. In 2011, a school in Melbourne was found responsible for an incident which a girl was nearly blinded when a coin was accidentally flicked into her eye in the schoolyard at lunchtime. The education department was forced to pay $120’000 in compensation as the school had breached its duty of care. The compensation allowed the plaintiff to undergo the necessary medical treatment and get on with the rest of her life.
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