Negligent Supervision of Children

Can parents or grandparents be liable for negligently supervising children in their care?

In Connolly (Litigation guardian of) v. Riopelle, [2010] O.J. No. 5798 (S.C.J.), the eight year old plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident. The defendant driver brought a third party claim against the boy’s grandfather, alleging that the grandfather was negligent in his supervision of the child and this caused or contributed to the accident. The child was visiting his grandparents’ home and was left outside to play alone when the accident occurred.

The grandfather brought a motion to strike the claim. He alleged that the child had been taught appropriate safety rules, was generally well behaved and did not require a greater level of vigilance than other children his age.

The motion was dismissed.

The Court held that is was open to the trier of fact to conclude that the grandfather ought to have looked out from time to time to ensure the child was adhering to the rules that were set, and there was an absence of evidence as to the accepted standard of care of other caregivers in the neighbourhood where the accident occurred.

Justice James concluded that the question of negligent supervision was better assessed in a trial setting.

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