What are our rights if my daughter was injured at a high school playing in a kick ball game in the gym because a coach used a recyclable grocery bag as a base?

My daughter stepped on the bag while running and slipped and tore her acl. It required surgery and is still having problems with it. With the school having immunity in our state, do I have a case of negligence because the coach used an inappropriate material that obviously would slip on a gym floor?

Asked on March 4, 2015 under Personal Injury, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Not only is the school (and district) protected, but its employee's--like coaches for who school employees (rather than volunteers)--are protected to. There are fouir main exceptions to the protection, three of which are not applicable here: 1) a deliberate wrongful act, like a crime directed against a student (e.g. sexual abuse); 2) negligence involving a school vehicle; 3) injuries from excessive force in discipling a student.

The fourth one also may not apply, but at least there's a chance you could make it fit: if an employee acts outside his/her professional capacity. An oft-given example is a gym teacher giving out medical advice. Here, you'd have to try to make out the claim that by using such a manifestly inappropriate item as a base, the coach had gone beyond the reasonable scope of his job. This would seem to be a very uphill argument to make, but at least you could attempt to make it. You are advised to consult with a personal injury attorney to see if you can make out a case that will circumvent the extensive protection given by your state to schools and their employees.

Note that if the coach was not an employee but was a volunteer, it is a different story--the immunity wouold not extend to him.

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