Deep gash on rock during soccer practice due to unsafe playing field...

by Alyson
(Clover, SC USA)

My Daughter plays HS Soccer. She was at practice and tripped on the ball and fell. She apparently landed on a rock and cut her leg pretty badly. The coach had me take her to the ER, telling me she probably needed stitches. She required 4 on the inside and 11 on the outside of the cut.

Even the doctor, who played soccer in college, asked how in the world she did that because it was so bad. She told him her soccer field was covered in rocks. The next morning I went to the principal and explained to him the liability the school was putting themselves under if they played on a field that was in such poor condition, and that the next injury could be much worse.

He told me who I needed to speak to, told me he would give them my name and number and also told me that my daughter should be covered under the school's insurance.

Later that day I received a call from the facilities director, who quickly informed me that my daughter would not be covered under their insurance because it was a sporting event and that the school was aware of the poor conditions of the field but they had nowhere else to play.

She even said that when kids had detention they had them pick up rocks from the field and offered to pay the janitors extra to pick up rocks. She said every time they went over the field more rocks came up but they did not have the funds to bring in dirt on sod.

She also said that the insurance company was aware of the field condition and that they were meeting the basic requirements of their policy.

The school obviously does not care about the safety of our kids. What is my recourse? Is the school really not liable for any injuries? There must be a way to force them to create a safe playing field for our kids. What can I do? Thank you.

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ANSWER for "Deep gash on rock during soccer practice due to unsafe playing field...":

Alyson (Clover, SC USA):

At this point you have done the best you can do. You notified the principal of your dissatisfaction with the soccer field’s playing conditions. The principal told you every reasonable action had been taken, and continued to be taken to remove rocks from the playing field. That is all you can expect.

Unless they are made from synthetic grass, most high school playing fields have rocks. Some playing fields have more than others. Sports injuries are expected in sports practice and competition. Unless the principal knew, or should have known there were very dangerous and jagged rocks on the field, the principal can’t be expected to do much more than take reasonable action to remove the rocks. It appears he did that.

It is safe to say hundreds of students play on the same field day after day, week after week, and month after month, and they do so without sustaining injuries. During all that playing it is reasonable to assume some students will be injured.

Schools are normally not held liable for reasonable injuries to students under reasonable playing conditions. In your daughter's case, it can be argued the playing conditions were reasonable.

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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