Will school be held accountable for premises liability?

Most parents assume that the staff members of their child’s school will do their best to maintain a healthy, safe learning environment for students and teachers alike. In a recent case outside of Florida, the family of a young student has filed a legal claim against the child’s school, seeking to hold it accountable for premises liability after the boy was injured during a physical education class. The accident occurred on March 20, 2015, and the impending lawsuit seeks at least $10 million in damages.

According to the information provided, the boy was with his classmates, playing outdoors during gym class, when a nearby soccer goal post unexpectedly fell over and struck his head. The child was flown to a nearby hospital for  emergency care and was listed in critical condition. It was reported that he remained in the hospital for an entire month due to the extent of his injuries.

Reports stated that the boy’s skull was fractured in the incident, which required him to be placed into a medically induced coma. Once he was brought back to consciousness, he had to learn to talk and walk all over again. His parents’ legal claim states that the teachers, coaches and school staff failed to properly supervise the students and failed to keep the playground area safe.

When questioned about the sudden collapse of the goal post, a district spokesperson said that the posts are not typically anchored to the ground because they are meant to be mobile. According to reports, accidents involving soccer goal posts are not rare, and in 2011, a 6-year-old was killed in Illinois when a soccer post fell on top of him. In Florida, a premises liability claim may be appropriate if a serious injury is caused due to the negligence of property managers and/or owners, including a failure to maintain a standard level of safety in connection with the property.

SourceNBC San Diego, “Family Files Claim Against Sweetwater School District in Boy’s Goal Post Injury“, Laura McVicker and Rory Devine, May 1, 2015