Sued children spark debate about home insurance liability and school responsibility

Published: August 31, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



A legal dispute in Toronto has led one trustee to advise parents to have liability insurance as part of their home insurance coverage. A Toronto mother is seeking $600,000 in costs after her child broke an arm playing with students in a playground, but a cross-filing means children are also being sued.

The mother has filed legal action against her child’s school, the Catholic board, and the principal following the March 2015 incident. Three ten years old at a Catholic school in Toronto were pushing each other as a prank when one classmate fell to the ground and broke his arm.

Both children (not the injured party) have now been named by the insurance company representing the school’s board, which has raised concerns about legal liability when students are involved in playground incidents. While naming minors in a case may shock some, it is a standard practise and both children were interviewed as part of the investigation.

Speaking to the Star, trustee Mike Del Grande says the Toronto Catholic District School Board should start urging parents to have liability coverage as part of their home insurance.

“This is the litigious atmosphere we’re in now and this is a warning that you should check your insurance policies,” he warned.

“This stuff can go on and it’s under the radar and nobody knows about it until they’re in it.”

Most homeowner coverage will include liability protection for the policyholder and their children, so most consumers will be automatically covered. However, it is worth checking with an insurance provider.

Representatives of the two children named in the case say they were not informed that the mother of the injured child had filed legal action. The filing came 8 months after the incident, but the families of the named children say they were informed in March 2017.

The Ontario School Boards’ Insurance Exchange contested and made a cross-claim against the children, arguing the school, principal, or board should not be responsible. Instead, the children are accountable because they broke school rules. Insurance experts agree suing a minor is not unheard of.

Del Grande says parents should ensure they have liability to protect against their children being sued. He believes this case should be in public for the debate to begin:

 “This whole thing seems to be operating in a climate of fear,” he said.