Visitor Question

High school basketball player sucker punched in the head?

Submitted By: Nicole (Savannah, GA)

At an out of town high school basketball game, our player was standing still and a player on the opposing team punched him in the side of the head and ear. The player who was hit fell to the court, and the other player was ejected. The injured player has ringing in the head, swelling and loss of hearing. He is going to the doctor to be evaluated.

What do we do in this situation? Do we notify the opposing school and trust the school to handle the situation, or do we hire an attorney to pursue proper legal action? We’re not sure what medical repercussions this will have. Thank you for any information and perspective you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Nicole,

In rare cases, schools may be liable for the acts and omissions of their students, when those actions or omissions result in property damage or injuries to others.

However, when those acts and omissions become criminal in nature, unless the school had previous knowledge of the student’s propensity for and/or history of violence, the school will normally not be held liable for the criminal acts of their students.

For the injured student or his parents to successfully pursue a civil claim for the student’s injuries and resulting damages, they must show the school had previous knowledge of the student’s propensity for, or history of violence, and with that knowledge failed to take action to remove the student from sports activities or other activities where the student might be able to exhibit violent tendencies.

Unless the injured student’s injuries are serious enough to require extended hospitalization, or long-term medical or therapeutic care, it is unlikely you will find an attorney to accept the case.

In the event the injured student’s injuries are serious enough as set out above, it is unlikely the school will cooperate and open their disciplinary records to the student’s parents. Instead, to secure the student’s disciplinary records will likely require the intervention of an attorney.

Moreover, it is possible the attorney will have to file a lawsuit. Within that lawsuit the attorney can file a “subpoena duces tecum.” This is a subpoena for documents, audio tapes, memorandums, school student disciplinary records, and other types of documentation.

Hopefully, the student’s injuries aren’t serious enough to require legal intervention. If not, the injured student’s parents have a right to ask the school administration to let them know the type of discipline the student will be bound by.

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

Best of luck,

Published: February 11, 2016

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