My daughter got injured in school when one of her classmates, who is only nine years old, knocked down the door of their classroom. We incurred medical expenses for the medical tests and treatments administered to her. I discussed the incident with the school officials and requested them to shoulder a portion of the medical expenses, but they denied responsibility for what happened. They said it was purely accidental. Can I file a suit against the school?
The school, its administrators and teachers, or the individual, entity or institution engaged in child care have special parental authority and responsibility over the minor child while under their supervision, instruction or custody (Art. 218, Family Code of the Philippines [FCP]). As a result, they are principally and solidarily liable for damages caused by the acts or omissions of a child under their care. The parents, judicial guardians or other persons exercising substitute parental authority over the said minor are liable only subsidiarily (Art. 219, FCP).
Principal liability means that the school, its administrators and teachers have a direct and primary responsibility for the damages caused by the minor student while he/she remains in their custody. On the other hand, solidary liability means that every liable person may be required to render entire compliance with the obligation.
The school, its administrators and teachers, may only exempt themselves from the liability imposed by the law if they can prove that they exercised the proper diligence required under the particular circumstances. (2nd par. Art. 218, Id.) They must show that they observed proper care based on the surrounding circumstances to prevent the untoward incident. It also denotes absence of negligence.
Applying the foregoing to your case, it is probable that the school failed to exercise proper diligence to protect its students based on your narration. If a nine-year-old child was able to knock down the classroom’s door, there is reason to believe that the door was not properly fixed or adequately maintained so as to avoid injury to the students. If this is true, then the school was negligent in taking precautions for the safety of its students.
The school argues that the incident is purely accidental to avoid liability. It appears that they are claiming that it is a fortuitous event, which refers to an extraordinary event that is not foreseeable, or though foreseeable, is unavoidable.
However, before the same may be taken into account, the school must present evidence that the incident is indeed unforeseeable or unavoidable. For indeed, the burden of proving that the loss was due to a fortuitous event rests on him who invokes it (Sicam vs. Jorge, 529 SCRA 443). Moreover, in order for the fortuitous event to be considered, it must be shown that no negligence or misconduct was committed that may have occasioned the loss (Saludaga vs. Far Eastern University, 553 SCRA 741).
Hence, the claim of the school that the incident was purely incidental will be negated if it is proved that there was negligence.
I hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. Please bear in mind that this opinion is based on the facts you narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary if the facts are changed or elaborated.
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