Visitor Question

Patella tendon rupture in gym class…

Submitted By: Eunice (Pennsylvania)

I’m a senior at my high school and I was injured in gym class. In adventure ed class, in which we do rock climbing, there was a substitute teacher and we were supposed to play football instead. However, we had to play inside.

The gym was already being used by the life fitness class as well, so we had to play using half of the gym, which was a small space for around 30 students.

While playing, the sub didn’t really set safety rules and a lot of running and bumping was occurring. I was just walking when someone bumped into me. I lost my balance and while falling I tore my tendon.

Right after I fell, the sub thought I was ok when I told him I couldn’t move my left leg well. He suggested I scoot over to the side of the gym, thinking it was a minor injury and the game continued. After a while, I asked to go to the nurse and I walked down.

The nurse just offered me ice. I asked to use the elevators instead of the stairs but they told me that I would need to use the stairs once anyway so it would be fine. I couldn’t go home since my parents and emergency contact were unavailable at that time.

After going to the ER, the preliminary diagnosis was a patellar tendon rupture. My school offers student accident insurance, but our family has no insurance. It requires us to pay medical fees and the school would reimburse some fees. In addition, insurance covers the first $100 dollars only. Because of this, the orthopedic offices I called didn’t accept “insurance from third parties”.

I can’t bend my knee and I can’t walk. My condition requires treatment ranging from physical therapy for 6 weeks to surgery and recovery lasting one year. I want to sue my school and request that they either give me compensation or take coverage of all medical expenses. Is this possible? What can I do? 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 Eunice,

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do other than heal. Injuries often occur at school, especially during physical and sporting activities. As a minor, your parents “assume the risk” you may be injured in activities requiring physical exertion. Gym classes are known as classes where student injuries occur.

“Assuming the risk” means that parents all over the country realize, when their children are at participating in sporting events at school, minor injuries will sometimes occur. Students can’t be in a protected environment forever. That would be impractical.

As a result, school administrators and parents alike understand their children may be injured. The school offered injury insurance. Barring “gross negligence” or a “wonton disregard for your safety,” the substitute teacher and thereby the school district are not liable for your injuries.

Even though the sub may have been lenient with the rules, there is no evidence the sub was grossly negligent.

For whatever reason, your parents decided not to purchase it. While it may sound harsh, without your own medical insurance or the coverage from the insurance offered by the school, you will likely not be able to recover compensation from the school. But, exceptions always exist, so it may be worth your while to speak with an attorney.

Learn more here: School Gym Class Injury Claims

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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