Indiana schools have a duty to ensure the safety of students while they are attending school and after-school activities. This duty generally requires that school employees and administrators take reasonable precautions to prevent injuries. For example, schools are required to maintain safe premises, free of dangerous hazards that may result in an Indiana slip-and-fall accident.
Schools are also responsible to take adequate precautions when designing curriculums, especially in classes that present a heightened danger, such as shop classes and gym classes. However, there are several legal doctrines that can come into play when a student is injured at school. A recent case illustrates the type of analysis a court will conduct when considering whether a school can be held liable for a student’s injuries.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a student at the defendant school. One day in gym class, the plaintiff was injured when he was accidentally struck in the eye by another student’s stick during a game of floor hockey. After the accident, the plaintiff required eye surgery.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the school, arguing that it was negligent in having too many students play at one time, in using the wrong type of ball, and in selecting floor hockey as a required part of the curriculum. The school responded with several arguments. First, the school claimed that, as a government actor, it was entitled to government immunity. Second, the school argued that the plaintiff assumed the risk of danger by participating in the floor hockey game. Finally, the school argued that it was in no way negligent in the supervision of the game.
The case proceeded to a jury trial, where a verdict was issued in the plaintiff’s favor. The school appealed.
The Case Is Reversed on Appeal
On appeal, the court determined that the plaintiff could not be said to have assumed the risk of the activity because it was a required part of the curriculum. However, the court agreed with the school that the selection of floor hockey as a part of the curriculum was a decision that was entitled to immunity. Notwithstanding that immunity, the court explained that the school could still be held liable if it was negligent in the planning and execution of the game.
The court determined that there was no negligent act on the part of any school employee that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The court explained that a critical element of any negligence claim is establishing proximate cause. Here, the plaintiff failed to point to any alleged act of negligence that resulted in his injuries. As a result, the court reversed the jury’s verdict.
Has Your Child Been Injured While at School?
If you have a child who was recently injured in an Indiana slip-and-fall accident, or any other type of school accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled attorneys at the Indiana personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience assisting victims and their families with pursuing the compensation they deserve. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
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