If I’m an elementary principal and my PTA pays for school buses for the students to go on field trips, can the PTA board members can be personally responsible and sued if something happens on the trip?

Get Legal Help Today

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If I’m an elementary principal and my PTA pays for school buses for the students to go on field trips, can the PTA board members can be personally responsible and sued if something happens on the trip?

The students or BOCES service pay for the tickets. My Assistant Superintendent of Instruction has to the PTA board members held liable if something happens on the trip since they are paying for the buses. Is this true? I have always had a the understanding that since the board of ed has to approve the trip that means it is sanctioned by the school district that they would assume the liability.

Asked on October 26, 2015 under Personal Injury, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Paying for something does not, by itself, make someone liable: for example, if I, as a parent, give my over-18-year-old daughter money to buy a car, but I am not on the car's title, do not insure it under my name, and am not an owner, I am not liable if she gets into an accident while driving it. Liability is generally based on fault, which generally goes to the party which had control but was negligent or careless in some way. Unless the PTA actually controls the buses (e.g. hires the buses and therefore exercises supervisory authority over the buses and drivers), they would not be liable. 
That is the general rule. It is possible for liability to be set or apportioned by contract, so if the PTA signs an agreement agreeing to "indemnify" the district for any costs or liability, by doing so, they would make themselves liable.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption