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Did you know that caregivers, just like parents, can be held responsible for damages caused by a child?

Enzo and Theo attend the elementary school in their neighbourhood. They are both twelve years old and in the same fifth grade class. During the morning recess, Enzo and Theo squabble. The cause: Sarah, the new girl. They are both trying to impress her and show her who’s the strongest. Unfortunately, Theo takes things too far and punches Enzo in the right eye. Enzo is stunned and loses consciousness. Noticing this, Ms. Lao, the supervisor, sends Enzo to the nurse’s office so that some ice could be applied to the eye. Enzo’s father is contacted and he picks up his son 15 minutes later. In the evening, considering Enzo’s complaints of a blurry vision, the father drives him to an optometrist. However, the specialist does not notice any abnormalities.

The summer goes by, and considering that Enzo occasionally complains of the presence of black spots in his eye, his father takes him back to the same optometrist for a reassessment. A detachment of the retina is diagnosed. Enzo is immediately referred to the hospital. The next day, a doctor successfully completes a surgical procedure in his right eye. However, despite the procedure, doctors are not able to establish a clear prognosis and, on the contrary, they fear a recurrence. Enzo’s parents wonder if they have any recourse against Theo’s parents or against the school.

Did you know that caregivers, just like parents, can be held responsible for damages caused by a child? The law provides that anyone who is entrusted with the custody, supervision or education of a minor child may be held liable for damages caused by the child. Indeed, the law assumes that the damages would not have occurred if he or she had provided adequate custody, supervision or education.

To absolve themselves from this responsibility, Theo’s parents and the school will have to prove that they were not at fault in the custody, supervision or education of the child. For example, they may argue that their obligation had ended when the harm occurred, that despite increased surveillance, the wrongful act could not have been prevented, or that the child’s act was totally unpredictable.

If you face such a situation and need further advice, you should consult a lawyer.