Physical education (PE) is a great way for children to release pent-up energy after sitting in class for several hours. Gym activities break up a school day and calm down rowdier youngsters so that they can focus better for the rest of their time at school. Due to the high-energy nature of some physical-education activities, however, children run the risk of injuries, some which may be related to exhaustion or inability to properly use provided equipment.
Gym teachers and coaches bear the responsibility of properly informing students of proper behavior and equipment use and adequately supervising children while they engage in physical education activities.
If your child has been injured in a physical-education incident involving someone’s negligence or the use of defective gym equipment, you may be entitled to compensation from those responsible. Contact child gym-and-physical-education lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 to learn more about your legal options.
Frequency of Gym-class Injuries
Injuries caused to children while engaging in physical-education or gym-class activities are exceptionally common. According to statistics compiled by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, gym-class activities account for over 60,000 injuries sustained by schoolchildren every year. Many of these injuries are not caused by someone’s negligence. When injuries are due to the carelessness or inattentiveness of adults responsible for the safety of children during gym-class activities, however, liability may be imposed upon such individuals in actions for negligence.
Legal Liability for Children’s Physical Education Injuries
Actionable injuries occur when those responsible for someone’s safety fail to exercise the degree of care required under the particular circumstances and that failure is a cause of a child’s injuries. Whether and to what extent a school may be held legally responsible for a child’s gym-class injuries may depend on the type of school involved and the laws of the state in which the school is located.
The laws of many states grant public schools immunity from liability for injuries sustained by children during school activities. In some states, this immunity is absolute, while in others the immunity merely reduces the amount of damages that can be recovered from public schools.
A private school’s duty toward a student participating in gym-class activities requires the school to exercise reasonable care for the safety of those children during such activities. Private schools do not enjoy the immunity afforded to public schools in many states, so they may be found liable for gym or physical education injuries sustained by a child if the injuries are determined to be the result of school or school-employee negligence. Though some private schools ask parents to sign waivers releasing the school from liability for injuries sustained by a child during gym or physical education activities, the courts of many states have held such waivers unenforceable.
Breach of a School’s Duty of Care
A school may be found to have breached its duty of care with respect to the safety of children during gym-class activities in any one of several ways.
Unsafe Gym-class Equipment or Facilities
If the equipment used by a school during gym-class activities is in need of repair or otherwise inadequate for a student’s safe use, the school and gym-class instructors who fail to arrange for the repair or replacement of equipment or the upkeep of facilities may be found liable in a negligence action for injuries sustained by a child as a result.
If school policies or gym-class instructors allow students to engage in gym-class activities without proper supervision, the school and instructors may be found liable for a child’s gym-class injuries if the negligent supervision is determined to have been a cause of the child’s injuries.
The distinction between accidental injuries and those resulting from negligent supervision may become an issue in negligent supervision cases. The nature of certain gym-class activities carries an inherent risk of accidental injuries—or injuries sustained through no one’s fault or negligence. Such injuries will not lead to liability on the part of a school or supervisor of gym-class activities.
Negligent or Inadequate Instruction
If a gym-class instructor fails to adequately train students with respect to gym-class activities and a child suffers an injury as a result of the insufficient training, the instructor as well as the school may be found liable for the injuries sustained by the child.
Negligent Hiring and Training of Gym-class Instructors
A school may also be held liable for injuries caused by the negligence or incompetence of gym-class instructors if the negligent hiring and training practices is found to have been a cause of the instructor’s incompetence or negligence.
Children should be properly supervised and provided safe equipment when participating in gym class activities. If your child has been injured in a gym class accident, then you have the right to claim compensation for this needless suffering. Contact child gym and physical education lawyer Jeffrey Killino today at 877-875-2927 to discuss your situation with him.