A person participating in an activity that has inherent risks (such as sports activities) has an assumption of the risks involved. This assumption of risk could either be “primary” or “secondary.” The primary assumption of risk is a complete defense wherein the defendant may not be held liable for the injury, and the secondary assumption of risk simply reduces recoverable damages according to comparative fault.

A although everyone has a duty of due care to not cause an unreasonable risk of harm to others [CC § 1714(a)], sports instructors cannot be expected to eliminate risks inherent in the sport or in the teaching process. A significant part of that process is to challenge or “push” the athletes or students to undertake more difficult tasks in advancing to the next level of skill.

The instructor breaches a duty of care only if he or she intentionally injures the player or engages in reckless conduct totally outside the range of the ordinary activity involved in teaching the sport [Kahn v. East Side Union High School Dist. (2003)].

The primary assumption of the risk may bar a student’s recovery against a sporting instructor for injury suffered from aggressive play or accidents that are inherent in the sport.

For more information about a school or its employee’s liability for injuries sustained by a student while participating in a sports activity, it is best to consult with a lawyer who is an expert in personal injury cases.

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