Is the school liable for my son’s injury during a wrestling practice at his school? My son’s opponent made an illegal move (pile drive), and sent my son head first to the floor. My son sustained a spinal injury and he has not been the same since.


There is a special relationship between a school district or its employees and students that imposes an affirmative duty on the district/employees to take reasonable steps to protect students from reasonably foreseeable risks of harm [C.A. v. William S. Hart Union High School Dist. (2012); M.W. v. Panama Buena Vista Union School Dist. (2003); Constantinescu v. Conejo Valley Unified School Dist. (1993); Gov.C. § 815.2]. This special relationship does not necessarily end with the classroom day but may extend to postclassroom, school-sponsored activities, including those where participation is voluntary [C.A. v.William S. Hart Union High School Dist., supra].

Generally, one who has not created a peril has no duty to affirmatively act so as to prevent harm to third persons. However, the law does impose a legal duty to affirmatively act (to protect someone else from danger or to control the conduct of a third person) if there is a “special relationship” between defendant and the person in danger or the third person creating the danger. “Special relationships” rest on various grounds. Some are inherently “special”; others arise from a contract (written or oral) or from detrimental reliance on an express or implied promise (e.g., to provide protection); and still others are imposed by statute or regulation [Lopez v. Southern Calif. Rapid Transit Dist. (1985)], such as the special relationship between the school district and the student.

Therefore, the school may be held liable for an injury to the student if it is proven that the former failed to protect the latter from foreseeable risks of harm. To know more about special relationships and liabilities arising from such relationship, it is best to consult with a lawyer who is an expert in personal injury.

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