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Fund Coverage 101: Intro to Liability Claims

July 31, 2020 Marcy Barker and Campbell Gill

Lady justice and court of law for liability claims

This article is part of our Coverage 101 series, in which we provide general overviews of the Auto, Liability, Property, and Cybersecurity lines of coverage offered by the Fund. Note that this is not an exhaustive description of everything included in your coverage with the Fund. Please consult your coverage agreement or your program contact for exact details of what is and is not covered.

School districts and community colleges can face a variety of legal challenges. The TASB Risk Management Fund is staffed with claims professionals who are committed to helping Fund members navigate the intricacies of both general and professional liability claims.

General liability claims

General liability claims include any claim for property damage or bodily injury not resulting from the use or operation of a motor vehicle. These claims arise when people are injured, or their property is damaged, and they want to hold your organization responsible. General liability claims are varied and can be caused by a variety of situations, including the following common incidents:

  • Slips and falls. People might be injured by slipping and falling on your property. This includes non-employee individuals such as students, parents, and visitors.
  • Rock thrown from lawnmower. If a grounds worker’s lawnmower accidentally hits a large rock and sends it flying, it can cause damages such as broken windows, dented vehicles, or even injuring someone.
  • Electric gate damages. Automatic gates can malfunction and close too early, which can seriously damage any vehicles or property in their way.
  • Falling tree limbs. Due to age or weather conditions, tree limbs can fall and damage non-member vehicles and other non-member property on your premises. As a member, you may be afforded coverage through the Fund’s Auto program if this situation happens to you. Refer to your coverage agreement or email RMSUnderwriting@tasb.org for coverage questions

Injured persons or property owners may sue your organization for negligence as a result of these incidents. However, in the vast majority of these claims, your school is afforded immunity under Texas law as a governmental entity. Any time an incident occurs, it should be reported so that your adjuster can contact the appropriate third party and explain any applicable immunities.

Legal liability claims

Legal liability coverage is broad and can encompass a variety of legal actions that can be brought against the Fund member, school employees, school board members, and volunteers. Not all legal actions trigger coverage, yet we nonetheless encourage you to report potential claims as soon as they occur. These can include the following charges or reports:

  • Report any lawsuit immediately upon service or receipt. Lawsuits are time sensitive. Therefore, as soon as a lawsuit is received by your organization, the lawsuit should be reported to the Fund for review and determination of coverage. You can file your claim using the Fund’s online form, and you can also call to speak with Liability Claims Manager Marcy Barker at 855.295.8344 to provide notice of the new lawsuit.
  • Report any claims presented by letter of representation. A letter of representation may include demands or deadlines which may require response. The claims will then be reviewed for coverage. If the demands are being made at the grievance level, the claims may not be covered. However, your reporting will provide notice of the potential claim.
  • Report any charge filed with an administrative agency. The majority of these claims are not covered because they are still being exhausted at the administrative level. However, the reporting of the charge will provide the required notice of the potential claim. This could include the reporting of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, an Office of Civil Rights complaint, and charges filed with other administrative agencies.
  • Report any request filed with the TEA for a special education due process hearing. The majority of these claims are not covered because they are still being exhausted at the administrative level. However, the reporting of the request will provide the required notice of the potential claim.
  • You may also report any incident in which you believe a claim may result because of the nature of the facts. This would include a fatality or a sexual abuse of a student. This could also include any grievances or appeals that have been heard by the school board. If it is your belief that the claimant will pursue the claim further, feel free to make the report. No action may be taken on the report other than notice of the potential claim. Routine complaints or grievances do not need to be reported since those are likely to resolve and not turn into litigation. 

Members should turn to the Fund for help mitigating legal issues. Contact Legal Liability Consultant Charli Searcy for education, training, and expertise to develop personalized legal solutions for your organization.

How to report

The Fund is dedicated to handling your new claim submissions quickly and efficiently. If you have any questions on reporting a claim or incident, please feel free to contact us. To report your liability claims, submit them quickly through the Fund website. You can also submit your claims via email at inboxclaims@tasb.org or by calling 800.482.7276, ext. 6800.

Tagged: claims, coverage, "Fund Basics", safety