Concussion in school gym class...

by Chris

My son got a grade 2 concussion in gym class. It was a small gym and they were playing basketball and kickball at the same time (gym is 50 feet wide by 100 feet). The teacher had left a student assistant in charge, when my son collided with another student.

He had a swollen eye and was bleeding after it happened, but neither the nurse nor parents were notified. Also, the teacher has attended impact training for concussions, yet did nothing. We took him to the hospital when he began having constant vomiting and headaches.

Can we do anything about this? Is the school or teacher liable for his injuries and treatment? Thanks for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Concussion in school gym class...":

Chris (Kansas):

While it appears the teacher didn't use his or her learned skills for treating impact concussions, that failure, in and of itself is not sufficient grounds to show negligence. Learn more about the concept of negligence in personal injury claims here and here.

If, as a result of the teacher's failure to apply his or her impact training, your son's condition unnecessarily worsened, that may have been the basis required to show negligence. Whether or not the small size of the gym and playing basketball and kickball within it constitutes negligence is subjective.

To show negligence may require showing previous injuries of other students due to the size of the gym, previous complaints by parents, or the teacher's lack of appropriate training.

Moreover, the previous incidents must have been ignored by school officials, or if not ignored, the school must have failed to make changes, whether cutting down on the number of students in the gym at a one time, or elimination of one sport during the time studebts are in the gym.

While this is something you may not agree with, injuries happen all the time at schools, especially when students are engaged in sports. This is referred to as "assumption of the risk." When parents permit their children to engage in sports while at school, the parents are said to have "assumed the risk" their children may be injured.

However, parents do not assume the risk of injuries which are not inherent in the sport or activity the parents permit their child to engage in. For example, while you may have known your son would play basketball or kickball, if your son was injured when a teacher asked your son to climb up a ladder to retrieve a ball which had lodged itself under a light or on a high wall, then the school would certainly be liable.

As a parent, you would not overtly or impliedly permit your son to climb up a ladder to retrieve a ball. With that said, unfortunately from the facts you present, it doesn't appear you have the basis of a viable personal injury claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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