Court Discusses School’s Liability in Recent Gym Class Injury Case

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Nevada issued an opinion in a personal injury case involving a student who was injured while playing floor hockey in gym class. The case presents important issues involving governmental immunity that may come into play in similar Maryland personal injury cases.

Field HockeyThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a student at the defendant middle school. A few years prior to the plaintiff’s injury, the school board approved the addition of floor hockey to the gym curriculum. As was the case with all sports played in gym class, participation was required.

During a game of floor hockey, the plaintiff was accidentally struck in the eye by another student’s stick. This resulted in the plaintiff needing subsequent eye surgery, as well as several follow-up visits. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the school.

The school defended against the case by making several arguments. First, the school claimed that the plaintiff assumed the risk of the dangers involved in floor hockey by participating. Second, the school claimed that as a government entity, it was entitled to immunity. Both of these arguments failed at trial, and the school was found liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

On appeal, however, the case was reversed in favor of the school. The court dismissed the school’s first argument regarding assumption of the risk, finding that the plaintiff was required to participate in the floor hockey game. The court also noted that the school was entitled to limited government immunity. The court explained that the school district’s choice to include floor hockey as a required part of the curriculum was immune from liability because it was a discretionary function of a government entity.

The court elaborated that the school was not necessarily immune from liability in how it planned, executed, and supervised the game. However, in this case, the court explained that there was no negligent act conducted by any school employee to which the plaintiff could point that caused her injuries. The court noted that the use of safety equipment was not required, per school regulations, and that the plaintiff’s own testimony stated that the gym instructor was supervising the students when the injury occurred. The instructor had even provided warnings to the students about “high-sticking.” As a result, the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff was reversed.

Has Your Child Been Injured in a School Accident?

If you have a child who has recently been injured while participating in an activity before, during, or after school, the school may be liable for your child’s injuries. While issues of immunity do arise in some cases, each case should be reviewed on its own merits. The skilled Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience helping victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve from the responsible parties. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Dismisses Slip-and-Fall Case Based on Plaintiff’s Inability to Show that the Landowner Had Notice of Black Ice, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 8, 2017.

Procedural Requirements in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 22, 2017.

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