Rahman Law PC Attorneys Sponsor San Francisco Pedalfest, Answer Bicycle Accident Questions

Bicycle Accident Attorneys pedalfest

SAN FRANCISCO, California, July 17, 2018 – (Digital Journal) – Rahman Law PC announces their sponsorship of Bike East Bay’s Pedalfest 2018.  Pedalfast is in its eighth year as is a free event to celebrate bikes and cycling with music, food, and art for the whole family to enjoy.  Bringing in an estimated 25,000 attendees, the event is an opportunity for the bicycle accident attorneys at Rahman Law to support Bike East Bay’s mission to make bicycling “safe, fun, and accessible” through advocacy, education, and community engagement.

Principal and founder of Rahman Law, Shaana Rahman, is a member of Bike East Bay and has sponsored Pedalfest all eight years as a bicycle accident attorney and advocate for bicycle safety awareness inclusive of improvements to bikeways and streets, which is a shared vision of Bike East Bay.  While much of Pedalfest revolves around the joy of bikes with amphibious races and a bicycle rodeo for children, there is still a commitment to “improving access to biking, walking and transit” while also “increasing the number of people who ride bicycles safely, confidently and knowledgeably” from Bike East Bay.

The team of bicycle accident attorneys at Rahman Law attend as many bicycling community events like Pedalfest in San Francisco each year as they can, to talk about bicycle safety, City advocacy measures, urban bicycle accident hazards, and answer common questions from cyclists.

“We want to get out there and talk to cyclists to help raise awareness on topics that could prevent catastrophic injuries,” said Ms. Rahman.  “We support Vision Zero for San Francisco and a big part of that is education.”

Last year, a common safety topic the public asked the bicycle attorneys related to bicycle lighting. The team at Rahman Law is happy to talk to cyclists again this year and free consultations are available for those who cannot make it to the event at rahmanlawsf.com.

About Rahman Law PC

The personal injury lawyers at Rahman Law PC are powerful advocates for people who have been injured through no fault of their own.  What makes Rahman Law PC different from other personal injury lawyers is they care about what happens to their clients; they aggressively advocate for their clients’ interests and have a personal relationship with each client, taking the time to listen and figure out solutions that make sense from a legal point of view but also from a human perspective. By providing the highest quality legal services to those who have been injured or have suffered wrongdoing at the hands of other individuals, corporations, or public entities, the personal injury lawyers and bicycle accident attorneys at Rahman Law PC have a proven track record of results and have successfully recovered millions of dollars for clients throughout California. Rahman Law PC offers clients attentive service backed with big firm experience, making them ready to take on any opponent.  To learn more about the personal injury lawyers at Rahman Law PC, visit http://www.rahmanlawsf.com or call (415) 956-9245 in San Francisco, (805) 619-3108 in Paso Robles, California.


Dangerous Sidewalks: Reduce Pedestrian Accidents by Reporting Them!

Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Dangerous Sidewalks

San Francisco was founded in 1776 and El Paso de Robles first established a post office in 1867, so both of the cities we operate offices in have a history to them and that brings with it old streets and often neglected, dangerous sidewalks (even neglected, dangerous roadways) in areas.  In fact, looking for examples of images to use as broken sidewalks through the Internet made us realize how much easier it would be to go outside and snap a few photos to get better examples.  In San Francisco, VisionZero is bringing attention to the “3 Es” of pedestrian safety: engineering, enforcement, and education.  Engineering will of course take time and we must all keep that in mind, but education and enforcement are things we can all take part of each and every day to reduce pedestrian accidents.

We are all pedestrians each and every day, even if we only walk to and from our cars.  Some people also ride bicycles or walk longer distances for health or to commute via public transportation.  So taking notice of a dangerous sidewalk or roadway and reporting it can begin a process to prevent a future accident for anyone, even yourself if it’s on a route you travel frequently.  Talking with a pedestrian accident lawyer is nearly always after an injury has occurred.


In Paso Robles, there is an online Action Request Form to use for any road-related repair request.  The City asks this be used from everything from pot-hole fills to sidewalk repairs: http://www.prcity.com/government/departments/publicworks/action-general.asp


In San Francisco there is a mobile SF311 app to use for reporting road-related repairs as well as an online form for potholes and street/road defects.  San Francisco uses separate forms for each item.  In San Francisco, there is also a lot of information about getting your adjacent property sidewalk repaired here: http://sfpublicworks.org/sirp.


However, not all sidewalks belong to the City or County government.  As pedestrian accident lawyers, we often must look at all addresses surrounding an accident or injury.  California Streets and Highway Code section 5610 clearly states that a property owner specifically has a duty to maintain any sidewalk that fronts his or her property in a safe manner.  Many cities have also adopted municipal ordinances consistent with California Streets and Highway Code section 5610, placing the burden of repair of sidewalks on the property owner. (E.g., Berk. Mun. Ord. § 16.04.010; San Luis Obispo Municipal Code § 12.16.020; Gonzales v. City of San Jose (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th 1127, 1137 [local ordinance expressly made landowners liable to members of public injured from unsafe conditions on abutting sidewalks].)  In these situations, reporting the dangerous sidewalk is still the thoughtful thing to do.  We have seen instances where the public entity has sent multiple notices to the property owner.  There are also zoning and coding departments that you may call or write to if you know the address of the property owner and wish to escalate the matter to ensure notices are sent.


If you are beginning to review the sidewalks you encounter on a daily basis in your mind, think about the difference in elevation between the defects, breaks, or cracks.  When reviewing cases as pedestrian accident attorneys, we’ve seen cases where differences of less than one inch have been considered “trivial” by the judge.  Knowing that both San Francisco and Paso Robles are both kept very busy with road maintenance and repairs, you may find reporting defects in the sidewalk of less than a one-inch rise in elevation get placed at the bottom of the repair list.  Your repair request may also be in a less-walked area and therefore a lower priority.  In San Francisco, the Sidewalk Inspection and Repair Program (SIRP) inspects and repairs sidewalks throughout the City on a 25 year cycle prioritizing by a number of factors including pedestrian usage.  Small defects can still be dangerous if unmarked and cause additional concerns for disabled pedestrians which we will address later, but if you look at the 12” defects in the sidewalks in Los Angeles, you’ll understand why some repairs might be first or last on the list.


Education and enforcement are two steps on the path to better pedestrian safety and the goal of eliminating traffic deaths within 10 years.  Remember you play a big part in this!





Rahman Law PC Sponsors Pedalfest Seventh Consecutive Year to Advocate Bicycle Safety

bicycle accident attorney advocacy pedalfestSan Francisco, CA — (ReleaseWire) — 07/20/2017 –In their continued dedication to advocacy towards reducing the number of bicycle accidents in San Francisco, Rahman Law PC announces returning sponsorship of Bike East Bay’s seventh annual Pedalfest held in Oakland at Jack London Square. Pedalfest is a festival free to all ages celebrating bicycles, cycling, family, food, and fun with live music on a pedal-powered stage. Keeping in-line with Bike East Bay’s mission of education, Pedalfest will also include opportunities for education and advocacy outreach.

Shaana Rahman, principal and founder of Rahman Law PC, is a member and frequent sponsor of Bike East Bay. The goals of Bike East Bay are advocacy, education, and community engagement. As bicycle accident attorneys in San Francisco, Rahman Law PC supports these goals as part of a mission to improve access and safety for bicycling as an integrated part of San Francisco’s transportation system. To further the advocacy of bicycle access and safety, Ms. Rahman is also a member and sponsor of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and Bike SLO County (formerly the San Luis Obispo County Bike Coalition).

Ms. Rahman has sponsored Pedalfest all seven years. She and members of the Rahman Law PC team will be participating at Pedalfest in Oakland to help raise awareness of safety through visibility and bicycle lights in particular this year. They will be offering a raffle of a Monkey Light from MonkeyLectric, a San Francisco bicycle wheel light company (http://www.monkeylectric.com). Rahman Law PC wants to help increase bicyclist visibility and talk to cyclists about other education and advocacy opportunities underway designed to decrease collisions between bicyclists and vehicles, including Vision Zero SF, the road safety policy with a mission to bring traffic deaths in San Francisco down to zero. Anyone interested in stopping by Rahman Law PC’s booth will also have the opportunity to Go Live on Facebook with them for a free messenger bag with the Rahman Law PC bicycle logo.

“We want to participate in events like Pedalfest with Bike East Bay where education and advocacy are promoted within the community because they generate a positive public image of bicyclists,” said Ms. Rahman. “Community involvement is crucial in making our streets safer to reduce bicycle collisions, which is why we believe in spending so much time advocating on behalf of bicyclists.” The bicycle accident attorneys at Rahman Law PC participate in City hearings, advocacy meetings, public events, and private speaking engagements to continue their work on making the streets safer for bicycles.

More information about Rahman Law PC’s bicycle advocacy can be found on their website at: http://www.rahmanlawsf.com/personal-injury-lawyers-practice-areas/bicycle-accident-attorney/


About Rahman Law PC

The personal injury lawyers at Rahman Law PC are powerful advocates for people who have been injured through no fault of their own with experience as bicycle accident attorneys.  What makes Rahman Law PC different from other personal injury lawyers is they care about what happens to their clients; they aggressively advocate for their clients’ interests and have a personal relationship with each client, taking the time to listen and figure out solutions that make sense from a legal point of view but also from a human perspective. By providing the highest quality legal services to those who have been injured or have suffered wrongdoing at the hands of other individuals, corporations, or public entities, the personal injury lawyers and trial lawyers at Rahman Law PC have a proven track record of results and have successfully recovered millions of dollars for clients throughout California. Rahman Law PC offers clients attentive service backed with big firm experience, making them ready to take on any opponent.  To learn more about the personal injury lawyers at Rahman Law PC, visit http://www.rahmanlawsf.com or call 415-956-9245 in San Francisco, 805-619-3108 in Paso Robles, California.

Share the Road this May: National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month 2017

national motorcycle safety awareness month 2017

In 2014 (the most recent year with published statistics by the California Office of Traffic Safety as of May, 2017), San Francisco County has some serious motorcycle safety awareness statistics:

379 motorcyclists killed or injured in a collision

This puts San Francisco County at 1 of 58 for the OTS ranking which is how cities measure-up to other cities of similar populations.

At Rahman Law PC, we also have an office to represent motorcycle accident clients in San Luis Obispo County.  This county ranks 29 of 58 on the OTS ranking with:

103 motorcycles killed or injured in a collision

Why are we bringing up these statistics?  Because May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month!  And this year we want to help raise awareness for safety to motorcycles, too!  We are motorcycle accident lawyers in San Francisco and San Luis Obispo and safety starts with awareness, just like when we advocate for bicycle safety awareness.

What Can You Do For National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month 2017?

If you ride a motorcycle or know someone who rides:

  • Get your helmet checked for age, damage, and fit – take it in to an authorized dealer.
  • Wear reflective gear and consider adding a new piece to honor National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
  • Wear protective gear with armor and pads from head to toe.
  • Brush up your skills – Many motorcycle riding schools offer advanced riding courses.

If you are an automobile driver (4 wheels and not 2):

  • Remember to look twice – motorcycles can be harder to see in mirrors.
  • Watch turns – motorcycle blinkers often do not have automated “offs” like cars.
  • Give extra space – motorcycles can use their clutch to slow down before they brake which will not show you a brake light (until they do brake) giving you less time to stop.

Motorcycles can be a fun way to get around and in San Francisco an easier way to find parking.  If you or a loved one enjoys motorcycle riding for commuting or for cruising, be sure to share these tips for a safe National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month 2017 and let’s make every month a safer month for motorcycles and bicycles.  Until Vision Zero becomes a reality in San Francisco and hopefully San Luis Obispo, too (vision zero means zero traffic deaths and was adopted to safety policy by the City and County of San Francisco in 2014), remember that the personal injury attorneys at Rahman Law PC are here for you whether you need a motorcycle accident lawyer, bicycle accident attorney, or other personal injury counsel, contact us today.

Street Safe Act 2017 for Pedestrian Accident Prevention

pedestrian accident lawyerLast month, Assemblyman David Chiu said what I’ve been saying for some time now:

Speed kills.”

(See my article titled “Speed Kills” in Plaintiff Magazine here)

But I’m sure I’m not the first to say it.  The important thing is that Assemblyman Chiu has joined forces with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, the City and County of San Francisco, the City and County of San Jose, Walk San Francisco, and other officials and organizations to do something about it!

They have announced the Safe Streets Act of 2017.  It’s a pilot program to reduce speeding utilizing cameras.  The technique captures a photo of vehicles traveling over the speed threshold and is being used in other locations across the country.  It is known as “ASE” and claims to be proven to reduce collisions resulting in catastrophic injury or death.  The pilot program will be located in areas known for speed related in collisions.

In the press release announcing the Street Safe Act 2017, it was reported that in San Francisco, an average of 30 people are killed per year while approximately 500 more are hospitalized in traffic collisions.  It did not specify pedestrians from vehicle drivers and passengers, but we know from other studies that in 2013, 21 pedestrians were struck and killed in San Francisco.  The numbers of pedestrian accidents in San Francisco are staggering and while speed is a contributing factor in 30% of deaths caused by a traffic collision nationwide, in San Francisco in 2013, speed was the #1 cause of fatalities (sfmta.org/visionzero; SFPD Crossroads Database 2010-2014.).

So yes, speed kills.  But people keep speeding.  The ASE cameras might help make the streets safer.

This is the kind of technology that might put pedestrian accident lawyers in San Francisco and San Jose out of business you say?  We frankly hope it will!  It is part of the Vision Zero plan, a safety initiative with a two-year strategy in San Francisco for engineering, enforcement, and education with the vision that no one should die simply by trying to get around.  At Rahman Law PC, we are advocates for safer roads.  Shaana Rahman is on the Board of Walk San Francisco and we participate openly in the mission to make the streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair assisted pedestrians, and even motorcyclists; all of the modes of transportation where the human is more exposed and more likely to have a catastrophic injury in an accident with a vehicle.  We are pedestrian accident lawyers to protect your rights when it’s needed and we’re excited about the Street Safe Act of 2017 because it has the potential to educate the public about road safety through enforcement which could save lives in the future.

Catastrophic Pedestrian Accident on Market Street Secures Improvements in San Francisco

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Thu Phan’s tragic death.  She was killed while crossing Market Street at 7th in her wheelchair.  A ban on left turns onto Market Street had already been implemented to help mitigate the dangers of the intersection with an exemption covering City vehicles under certain duties.

The family became active in fighting for safety improvements after their catastrophic loss.  Thu Phan’s sister reached out to Human Streets, Walk San Francisco, and San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets.  Walk San Francisco reports that since the catastrophic pedestrian accident that took Thu Phan’s life, Walk San Francisco and their Vision Zero Coalition have worked to address the conditions that lead to her death.

As a result of these pedestrian advocacy efforts, San Francisco has now implemented:

  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs): walk signals to provide people crossing with a head start at six intersections along Market, including 7th;
  • More visible turn restriction signage at Market & 7th;
  • A City Administrator’s policy memo, which explicitly states that City drivers are not exempt from turn restrictions (a key factor in Thu Phan’s death);
  • A new, required driver training and education program for all City staff that specifically highlights how to drive safely around seniors and people with disabilities.

This last safety improvement deserves an extra comment.  Seniors are five times more at risk of a serious/fatal injury as pedestrians than younger adults according to information gathered by Walk San Francisco.

Here are a few more statistics that may make you realize the importance of a pedestrian accident lawyer, or a catastrophic injury attorney for when a loved one is fatally or catastrophically injured by a vehicle:

  • In 2015, 5,376 people were killed in pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes – nearly 15 people per day (NHTSA)
  • California is the state with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities (NHTSA)
  • 60% of all San Francisco’s traffic deaths are people walking – 4X the national average (Walk SF)

If you or a loved one is hit by a vehicle, know your rights and speak with a pedestrian accident lawyer in San Francisco or Paso Robles.  At Rahman Law PC, we offer personalized attention to every client in a supportive and respectful way.  We have offices in San Francisco and Paso Robles, California.

To Veto or Not to Veto?

Not too long ago, Governor Jerry Brown aided making California a safer biking and walking community by passing the Three Feet for Safety Act, effective since September 16, 2014, which requires drivers to give at least three feet’s space in between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator when overtaking or passing a bicycle. The approval of this bill was a significant accomplishment to the growing bike-safety movement that persistently promoted street safety through campaigns such as “Be Nice, Look Twice” and “Vision Zero,” which encourage bicyclists and pedestrians to take matter into their own hands and take extra caution when sharing the street with motor vehicles. However, despite Governor Brown’s approval of AB 1371, three other bills that purported to improve road safety have recently been vetoed:

SB 1151: This bill would add Section 42011 to the Vehicle Code, which would “require that an additional fine of $35 be imposed if the violation occurred when passing a school building or school grounds, as specified, and the highway is posted with a standard “SCHOOL” warning sign and an accompanying sign notifying motorists that increased penalties apply for traffic violations that are committed within that school zone. In addition, this bill would require “that these additional fines be deposited in the State Transportation Fund for purposes of funding school zone safety projects within the Active Transportation Program.

Governor’s Veto Message:

“Increasing traffic fines as the method to pay transportation fund activities is a regressive increase that affects poor people disproportionately. Making safety improvements in school zones is obviously important, but not by increasing traffic fines.”


AB 2337: This bill would prohibit the department from reinstating a person’s privilege to drive a motor vehicle until the expiration of 2 years after the date of revocation and until that person gives proof of financial responsibility, when that person is the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in death or permanent, serious injury to another person, and the department receives a duly certified abstract of the record of a court showing that the person has been convicted of failing to fulfill the requirements described above.

Governor’s Veto Message:

“While I consider hit-and-run collisions to be very significant events, current penalties seem to be at appropriate levels.”


AB 1532: This bill would provide that a driver of a vehicle involved in an accident where a person is struck shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and provide specified information including, but not limited to, his or her name and current residence address. A violation of these provisions would be either an infraction, punishable by a fine not exceeding $250, or a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for 6 months, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000, or by both, and the Department of Motor Vehicles would be required to immediately suspend the driver’s license of a convicted driver for 6 months.

Governor’s Veto Message:

“California has a very extensive set of criminal laws and penalties. This measure would create a new crime that includes a fine and penalty assessments up to $4,231 and possible jail time of six months. I don’t find sufficient justification for creating a new crime when no injury to person or property occurred. I think current law is adequate.”


If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

Vision Zero


Despite campaigns such as “Be Nice, Look Twice,” which encourages pedestrians to always be aware of the presence of automobiles and take caution, the statistics of accidents in San Francisco is still frightening- vehicles struck more than 800 people resulting in the loss of 21 lives in 2013.  Walk San Francisco reported that despite the city’s A+ grade score in walkability, pedestrian safety remains a D+. However, Walk San Francisco recognizes the city’s efforts in improving street safety, giving San Francisco an overall score of C+.

Vision Zero is one of San Francisco’s efforts to improving street safety. Vision Zero originated in Sweden in the late 1990s, and assumed that accidents are the “result of human error that can be lessened, if not eliminated, through better engineering, education, traffic law enforcement and analysis of data.” San Francisco is one of three cities in the United States to adopt this plan, which aims to completely eliminating pedestrian fatalities by 2024. By analyzing accident “hotspots,” which the city transportation agency and health department stated tend to be “wide, one-way streets that drivers tend to treat like freeways,” Vision Zero advocates purport to work with various agencies to make the streets of San Francisco safer.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Walk San Francisco, Shaana Rahman is committed to reducing the number of pedestrian collisions.

If you ever need a pedestrian injury attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

(Source: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/07/06/6537106/san- francisco-works-to-improve.html)

Increase in Traffic Citations

There seems to be a profound effort to finally work towards making San Francisco a truly pedestrian-friendly city and get its name off the list of 20 least safe cities for drivers and pedestrians. Police Chief Greg Suhr reports that from January 2013 to February 2014, there was a 53 percent increase in citations citywide. The police department has given officers orders to prioritize transit safety; all 10 police stations now emphasize catching traffic violators.

In the past month alone, a total of 10,989 citations have been handed out, most of which were given for speeding and failing to yield while making a left or U-turn . Police officers are watching out for the five traffic violations that are the leading causes of collisions: 1) running a red light 2) failure to halt at a stop sign 3) violating a pedestrian right of way 4) failure to yield making a left or U-turn 5) speeding. However, keep in mind that not only drivers are subject to receiving citation tickets, but also pedestrians and bicyclists who fail to abide by city traffic codes.

The efforts by various organizations, such as Walk San Francisco, to make San Francisco’s streets safer is paying off through the City’s recognition of the fatal consequences of weak traffic patrol and prioritization of securing and reinforcing traffic codes.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Walk San Francisco, Shaana Rahman is committed to reducing the number of pedestrian collisions.

If you ever need a bicycle accident attorney in San Francisco, Paso Robles, or the surrounding Central California Coast area, contact us for a free consultation.

(source: Kwong, Jessica. “Cracking Down on Traffic Scofflaws.” The Examiner 14 Mar. 2014: 1. Print.)

Establishing School District Liability In Cases Involving the Assault and Battery of Students by Students By Shaana A. Rahman

Unfortunately, we are seeing a rise in both physical and sexual assaults of students, while at school, by other students. While we are all familiar with the schoolyard fight, there is a point at which such fights give rise to liability, not only on the part of the assaulter and his or her parents, but also on the part of school officials, including the school district, and supervising teachers. Similarly, when a child is sexually assaulted at school by another child, it is necessary to evaluate the potential liability of the school entities and its employees. When a parent sends a child off to school, it is with the implicit, and sometimes explicit, understanding that the school will keep the child safe throughout the school day. In fact, it has long been held that “[a] special relationship is formed between a school district and its students resulting in the imposition of an affirmative duty on the school district to take all reasonable steps to protect its students…[t]his affirmative duty arises, in part, based on the compulsory nature of education.” (M.W. v. Panama Buena Vista Union School District (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 508, 517, citing, Rodriquez v. Inglewood Unified School Dist. (1986) 186 Cal.App.3d 707, 714-715, Cal. Const. art. I §28, subd. (c) [students have inalienable right to attend safe, secure and peaceful campuses]; Educ. Code §48200.)

Additionally, there are a myriad of requirements set forth in the California Education Code and the California Code of Regulations that, if not met, can give rise to liability on the part of district employees. Specifically, Education Code §44807 provides: “[e]very teacher in the public schools shall hold pupils to a strict account for their conduct on the way to and from school, on the playgrounds, or during recess.” Pursuant to Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, §5551 a principal is responsible for the supervision and administration of his school. Also, § 5552 provides, “[w]here playground supervision is not otherwise provided, the principal of each school shall provide for the supervision by certificated employees of the conduct and safety . . . of the pupils of the school who are on the school grounds during recess and other intermissions.” As many incidents occur during recess periods, this statute is particularly useful in establishing the parameters of the liability. The purpose of the foregoing laws is to regulate students’ conduct “so as to prevent disorderly and dangerous practices which are likely to result in physical injury to immature scholars.” (M.W. v. Panama Buena Vista Union School Dist. (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 508, 517-18 review denied (Oct 01, 2003) [quotations omitted].)

This article will discuss the three main theories of liability in assault and battery cases: 1) negligent supervision of students, 2) negligent hiring training or supervision of district staff and 3) dangerous conditions of public property. Additionally, I have provided a checklist of documents to obtain to properly investigate a school assault and battery case. (More on student-on-student assault is in another blog, here.)


California Government Code §815.2 provides that “[a] public entity is liable for injury proximately caused by an act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the scope of his employment if the act or omission would, apart from this section, have given rise to a cause of action against that employee.” (Cal. Gov. Code §815.2.) In addition, Government Code §820 provides that “a public employee is liable for injury caused by his act or omission to the same extent as a private person.” (Cal. Gov. Code §820.) Thus, there may be direct liability of school district employees such as teachers, hall monitors and school administrators and vicarious liability for the school district. The majority of such cases hinge on 1) what the school personnel should have done, 2) what they did do and 3) what they failed to do.

Most school districts and schools have written materials that address how the business of the safety of students must be conducted. This is generally in the form of an employee handbook or training materials, which have sections devoted to physical altercations and sexual harassment or assault. Many schools also now have a “zero tolerance” policy for students touching each other, even, that which is, as one school administrator described to me, “innocent touching, like hand holding”. Often such manuals will contain the student-teacher playground ratios, and the supervision requirements during recess, and lunch or other times when students will be moving through the halls. As many physical altercations take place during these times, it can be relatively easy to identify whether or not school officials failed to monitor students when they should have been, including whether there were insufficient numbers of school employees present, making adequate supervision impossible. More problematic are sexual assault cases which generally take place out of view in places like restrooms, empty classrooms or other areas obscured from view of supervising school employees. In these cases, the facts must be scrutinized to evaluate the extent of supervision. An important factor in this analysis is the ages of the children being supervised.

The California Supreme Court in the leading case of Dailey v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 741, 747, has aptly stated the rule (codified in Education Code sec. 44807) concerning negligent supervision:

While school districts and their employees have never been considered insurers of the physical safety of students, California law has long imposed on school authorities a duty to “supervise at all times the conduct of the children on the school grounds and to enforce those rules and regulations necessary to their protection.” [Citations.] . ..The standard of care imposed upon school personnel in carrying out this duty to supervise is identical to that required in the performance of their other duties. This uniform standard to which they are held is that degree of care “which a person of ordinary prudence, charged with [comparable] duties, would exercise under the same circumstances.” . . . Either a total lack of supervision or ineffective supervision may constitute a lack of ordinary care on the part of those responsible for student supervision. (Daily, supra, 2 Cal.3d 741, 747.)

Dailey involved unsupervised students who engaged in a “slapboxing” contest which left one student dead. The Court in Daily opined that “our courts have often held that a failure to prevent injuries caused by the intentional or reckless conduct of the victim or a fellow student may constitute negligence. “ (Id. at 749.) Dailey reversed a directed verdict for the defendant school district. The Dailey court also noted that the younger the students, the greater the vigilance required of the school district, especially for pre-high school students. ( Id. at 748.)


The courts in both M.W. v. Panama Buena Vista Union School and Leger v. Stockton Unified School District (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 1448 similarly held that a cause of action against a school district is viable for the district employees’ negligent supervision of its students and premises. In Leger, the Court found that the defendant district owed a duty of care to plaintiff and as such was liable to plaintiff pursuant to Government Code §§815.2 and 820. The Court’s opinion was based on its finding of a special relationship between the student and the district employees, including the principal and the wrestling coach. (Leger, at 1459.) The Court also analyzed the foreseeability of the harm to the plaintiff, referencing the holding in Peterson v. San Francisco Community College District, 36 Cal.3d at p. 812.)

The Court in Leger further found that as the defendants at issue would have been liable to plaintiff upon the facts pled if they worked in the private sector, the defendant employees were similarly liable pursuant to §§815. 2 and 820. In M.W. v. Panama, supra, the Court held that the school district owed a duty of care to protect the plaintiff from a sexual assault committed by another student. In so holding, the Court opined that “[s]chool districts are subject to well-established statutory duties mandating adequate supervision for the protection of the students…[t]hese affirmative duties arise from the compulsory nature of school attendance, the expectation and reliance of parents and students on schools for safe buildings and grounds, and the importance to society of the learning activity that takes place in schools.” (Id. at 685-686.) Thus, it is well established that a school district owes a duty of care to its students to protect them from sexual assaults. (See also, Virginia G v. ABC Unified School District (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 1848, 1855-1856.)

In a recent case involving a playground sexual assault, prior to litigation I was able to procure an employee handbook for a particular school which contained the following: “[y]ard duty is a legal responsibility…[c]irculate in the area around your duty location in order to monitor play.” “STUDENTS MUST BE SUPERVISED AT ALL TIMES.” Armed with the school’s internal policy, it was then just a matter of getting the school personnel to admit that there was no excuse for letting a student out of their sight, even for a moment. It was also then easy to point to the specific conduct on the part of the school personnel which violated the school’s own policy, creating an opportunity in which the assault to occur.


In many instances, the plaintiff may be able to allege that the incident was facilitated by the school district’s hiring and continued employment of personnel who were neither qualified nor properly trained and as a result were ill-equipped to ensure the safety of the children left in their care.

California Code of Regulations, title 5, §§5551 and 5552 requires the school district and its administrators, such as the principal of a school, to staff common areas, including playgrounds with competent, adequately trained staff. Moreover, school administrators have a continuing duty to supervise such staff members to ensure that they were competently performing their sole job, i.e., protecting the children from harm. It is not sufficient for the school to have a host of rules pertaining to safety and supervision. The school administrator must ensure that such rules are being followed by school employees and that such employees have the requisite knowledge and training to execute the rules. (See, Virginia G. v. ABC Unified School District (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 1848, [sexual molestation of a student by a teacher; held liability can be imposed on the district based on the negligence of its employees who were responsible for the hiring and/or supervision of the teacher if such employees knew or should have known of the teacher’s history of sexual misconduct with students under his supervision.].)

Defendants will typically rely on the Fourth Districts’ holding in DeVillers v. County of San Diego (2008) 156 Cal.App.4th 238,to assert that no cause of action for “negligent training, hiring or supervision (of a public entity’s employees)” by a public entity can be pursued. However, the Court’s analysis in this case distinguished between direct and vicarious liability. Ultimately, the holding is fact specific in a case where there was a tenuous link between the failures of the district and its employees and the third-party’s conduct.

Oftentimes, the school personnel left in charge of supervising children on the playground or on the lunchroom have little or no training on how to identify or prevent potential dangers and have been provided no instructions on how to keep students in their charge safe.


When an assault and battery occurs on school grounds, out of the direct line of sight of a school employee, investigation into whether the configuration of the premises created a dangerous condition is necessary. In sexual assault cases, many times a child will be lured to a location away from other students and teachers to a location such as behind a fence, a dumpster or hedges—something where an activity can be hidden. In this scenario, the school district will assert that they were in fact supervising the children, yet as the act occurred outside of their view they neither knew or should have known about the conduct.

In these circumstances, a cause of action for dangerous condition of public property can be used to assert that the configuration of the premises created a danger, giving rise to the assault. This can occur on playgrounds where there is a gap in a fence, a high hedge or a misplaced dumpster where children congregate to “hide” from school officials.

California Government Code §835 provides that “a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition[1] of its property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred, and either: (a) [a] negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the scope of his employment created the dangerous condition; or (b) [t]he public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition under Section 835.2[2] a sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.” (Cal. Gov. Code §835.)
Pursuant to §835.4, the reasonableness of the public entity’s act or omission creating the condition is determined by “weighing the probability and the gravity of potential injury to persons … foreseeably exposed to the risk of injury against the practicability and cost of taking alternative action that would not create the risk of injury or of protecting against the risk of injury.” (Cal. Gov. Code §835.4.)

Additionally, Government Code §840.2 provides that “[a]n employee of a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of public property if the plaintiff establishes that the property of the public entity was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonable foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred, and that either: (a) [t]he dangerous condition was directly attributable wholly or in substantial part to a negligent or wrongful act of the employee and the employee had the authority and the funds and other means immediately available to take alternative action which would not have created the dangerous condition; or (b) [t]he employee had the authority and it was his responsibility to take adequate measures to protect against the dangerous condition at the expense of the public entity and the funds and other means for doing so were immediately available to him, and he had actual or construction notice of the dangerous condition under Section 840.04 a sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.” (Cal. Govt. Code §840.2.)

In these cases, it is important to visit the location where the incident occurred and visually observe what a vigilant school employee could have seen, if they were paying proper attention. It is also important to establish whether the location at issue was, in fact, a location used by students to avoid detection by staff, even if the prior use was for relatively innocuous behavior. Most school personnel tasked with supervising students will admit that there are warning signs that students are either engaging in a prohibited activity like fighting or bullying, or about to engage in such behavior. These warning signs include, groups of students congregating in one area, a group of students who suddenly disappear from the supervisor’s sightline, with one or two students acting as a lookout, and excessive noise. These warning signs should give rise to the school personnel investigating the activity and stopping it before it starts.


It is an unfortunate set of events which leads school personnel to fail to disclose a physical or sexual assault to a child’s parents. The school district will generally fall back on the defense that it had no idea that anything occurred, using their feigned ignorance as an overall defense. As discussed above, if the school district takes the ostrich with their head in the sand approach, this can be compelling evidence of a failure to supervise.

Additionally, where the school district fails to report such violence to a student’s parents, the Courts have found that this may give rise to an independent cause of action on the part of the parents. In the case of Phyllis P. v. Claremont Unified School District (1986) 183 Cal.App.3d 1193, which involved an allegation of sexual molestations at school by a fellow student, the plaintiffs alleged that the school district had learned of the incident but decided not to inform the victim’s mother. The trial court sustained the defendant’s demurrer. The Court of Appeal reversed the ruling of the trial court and held that as the defendants stood in a special relationship to the victim and to her mother, the injuries to the mother were foreseeable and as such the defendants had a duty to inform the mother after learning of the molestation. The Court further opined that the district should have foreseen that withholding the information from the mother would cause more emotional distress. The Court also held that the mother’s cause of action was properly based on her status as a direct victim of defendants’ negligence, and was not derivative of her daughter’s injury. (Phyliss P, supra, 183 Cal.App.3d 1193, 1196-1197.)

Many parents report having continued distress and apprehension following such an incident as they not only no longer trust the school personnel to care for their children, but fear the worst that if something does happen to their child, the school will hide it. This is a crushing realization to a parent who has no choice but to relinquish their child into the hands of a school for a majority of their child’s life, with no reassurance that their child will remain safe.


Before taking on any case against a public entity, it pays to heavily investigate the case beforehand. Take advantage of the virtually free information available through public records act requests which can help you get the following:

a) School protocols and procedures regarding supervision, safety, training of employees and policies on acceptable/unacceptable behavior between students;

b) Training manuals/handbooks which may outline the duties and responsibilities of the school and its personnel with respect to students, including to provide a safe and effective learning environment, complying with district and state policies and regulations, safety of students, monitoring behavior/common areas, recess etc, assessing signs of sexual abuse;

c) Administrative regulations for city/county –student safety, playground safety etc.;

d) “Touching” or “sexual assault” policies—most = “zero tolerance” even for “innocent touching”;

e) Disciplinary policies for students who violate rules;

f) Child abuse prevention policies and training;

g) Prior instances of violence at the school


Cases involving injuries to children are always emotionally charged. In taking on such cases, while it might seem intuitive that a child would not have been injured if the school district and its employees were doing their jobs, in order to prevail you must be able to point to specific conduct, or failures on the part of the district and its employees that either caused or contributed to the incident.

Rahman Law PC provides free consultations if you have questions.

Receive new blogs via email:

[email-posts-subscribers namefield=”YES” desc=”Subscribe to receive our blogs in your inbox!”]

[1]Government Code section 830 defines a “dangerous condition” as “a condition of property that creates a substantial… risk of injury when such property or adjacent property is used with due care in a manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it will be used.”

[2]Section 835.2(a) sets forth: “[a] public entity had actual notice of a dangerous condition …if it had actual knowledge of the existence of the condition and knew or should have known of its dangerous character. Section 835.2(b) defines constructive notice as such condition which existed for such a period of time which was of such an obvious nature that the public entity should have discovered the condition and its dangerous condition. Admissible evidence on the issue of constructive notice includes whether the condition would have been discovered by a reasonably adequate inspection system to inform the public entity whether the property was safe for its use . (See, Cal. Gov. Code section 835.2.)