Visitor Question

Injured lifting weights at school…

Submitted By: Anonymous (Gordon, NE)

My daughter in 9th grade was weight lifting and didn’t have a spotter paying attention during squats. The PE teacher was laughing and joking with football boys and didn’t require students to wear lifting belts. Her last go up was too much, the spotter wasn’t paying attention, and she fell with 100lbs.

Now she has a severe sprain in her back. The doctor put her on medication for pain and muscle relaxers to try and reduce swelling. The teacher put ice on her back and left it at that. I didn’t get a phone call, letter… nothing from the school. The principal is even refusing to return my calls after 2 days, and is still not answering or calling back.

What should I do? Can I pursue the school for negligence? What are my options? Thank you.

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.


Dear Anonymous,

Schools have a legal duty of care to do everything within reason to protect their students from undue harm and injury. From the facts you present, it appears the school, through its PE teacher, failed (or “breached”) that duty of care. For legal purposes that breach is referred to as the school’s “negligence.”

When negligence exists, and it appears to exist in this case, and that negligence is the direct and proximate cause of a student’s injuries, the school district may become responsible (“liable”) for your daughter’s damages. This can include your daughter’s medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and her pain and suffering.

The next consideration is the issue of the schools “sovereign immunity.” Sovereign immunity is a judicial doctrine which prevents the government or its political subdivisions, agencies, departments, and employees from being sued without its consent. This includes public schools and their school districts.

This presumes the government and/or its employees were conducting themselves within the bounds of their normal and customary work duties.

Sovereign immunity can be waived, and in the case of negligence, many government agencies do waive their immunity. However, sovereign immunity does not apply if the government entity or its employees were engaged in willful or wanton misconduct, or were grossly negligent.

Before going further, be sure your daughter receives all the medical care she requires. Once she is fully treated, or her doctor says she has reached a level of maximum medical improvement (where continued medical care won’t substantially increase her condition), then you may consider proceeding against the school.

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: November 4, 2015

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