Visitor Question

Son injured arm in dodgeball game at school…

Submitted By: Annie (Denver, Colorado)

My son got hit by a ball during a dodgeball game at school. He texted me and said he thinks he got a fracture, and that it was painful. I instructed him to go to the teacher and ask for ice to prevent swelling. I called the office to follow up and they said he was okay. When I picked him up, his arm didn’t look the same. I immediately brought him to the ER and found he had a closed fracture and had to see an Orthopedic Surgeon.

The student that threw the ball so hard was the same boy who hurt him last week, but my son didn’t complain. Although the first one was not reported to the office. My son said that his classmates saw that he got hit in the face in the same game by the same boy. A written incident by the teacher only said that my son don’t look in pain, and that he only asked for ice.

Does the school need to pay all the medical bills, even though we have medical insurance with good coverage? Was it negligence on the part of the teacher not to send my son to the office to be checked, and their failure to notify me? Also, should the other student be reprimanded? Or was it also a case of “prejudice” because the other boy is the same nationality as the teacher and everyone else in the office?

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 Annie,

When it comes to a school’s legal duty toward the protection of students, specific supervision is required. This is especially true when students are involved in activities with obvious hazards or dangers. The type of supervision and protection depends on the age of the child and the type of activity.

For example, let’s say middle school students are playing baseball during gym class. In the past, several students have been unintentionally hit in the head by the pitcher when throwing the ball to the batter. Despite the obvious danger of head injuries, the school failed to provide hard baseball protective headgear for the students.

During one game a batter was struck in the head by the ball as it was thrown by the pitcher, causing a brain concussion. The parents incurred substantial medical bills.

In the above case the school would have been negligent in not providing the headgear, and therefore liable for the student’s injuries and resulting medical bills.

Another example would be a teacher or supervisor who has been warned about the “propensity” of a student to behave in a manner which has caused injuries to other students. And despite that knowledge, the teacher or supervisor failed to take action to protect other students.

If the student who struck your son had a history of causing injuries to students, and the school failed to take action to protect those students, the school may be liable. In this case, there is no evidence of that. Because the prior incident was not reported to the teacher or a school administrator, they would not have have had previous knowledge.

While the school exhibited negligence in its apparent failure to take your son’s injury more seriously, and provide or cause to be provided appropriate medical attention, that negligence was not the cause your son’s injury. As a result, the school would likely not be liable for your son’s medical bills.

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: October 19, 2017

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