Is school liable for injury in PE class?

by Jeanne
(Shelton, WA)

My daughter is in the 9th grade. They have coed physical education classes. The class was playing ultimate Frisbee and 2 large boys landed on top of my daughter and squished her, she is very petite. The teacher said she could go to the office if she wanted to, they told her that her ankle was just bruised and sent her home with crutches.

I took her to the emergency room the following morning and found out it was a very serious break that may require surgery. Is the school liable for her injury? Shouldn't they have sent her for more thorough medical evaluation, or at least called me? Is there anything I can do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Is school liable for injury in PE class?":

Jeanne (Shelton, WA):

The school erred in failing to immediately contact you. Moreover, the school erred in not realizing your daughter’s injuries were quite serious. What is difficult to understand is how your daughter was able to function with such a serious injury. A fracture of any bone would be extremely painful.

With a serious fracture, your daughter would likely have been in tears and writhing in pain. If that were the case, and the school officials ignored those obvious signs, they were clearly derelict in their duties. With that said, let’s talk about liability...

School officials have a legal "duty of care" to do everything within reason to make the school premises safe for its students. This includes making sure floors are unobstructed, playgrounds are safe, and school activities are well-supervised. When school officials fail in their legal duty of care, that failure (or "breach") may constitute negligence.

When negligence is established, the school may be responsible for your daughter’s damages, including her medical bills, your out-of-pocket costs (for medications, crutches, etc.), your lost wages (if you had to take off time from work to care for your daughter), and for your daughter’s pain and suffering. Here's a more in-depth look at everything you can claim for damages.

It can be argued permitting 9th grade boys and girls to play Ultimate Frisbee should have been prohibited, as in most cases 9th grade boys are larger and heavier than 9th grade girls. This is especially true if the school officials knew or should have known during previous frisbee games boys collided with girls, or fell on top of them.

Ask the school officials to pay for your daughter’s medical bills, your out-of-pocket expenses, and for any wages you may have lost while caring for your daughter. If the school won’t agree to do so, and you want to pursue the matter, seek the advice and counsel of a personal injury attorney.

By permitting your daughter to play Ultimate Frisbee with 9th grade boys, school officials may have breached their duty of care to protect your daughter from undue harm and injury. If that is the case, then your daughter may have a right to compensation for her damages.

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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