School’s Liability for Sports-related Injuries

The Education Code of California imposes a duty on schools to supervise students while in the premises or performing school-sponsored activities.

Ed.C. § 44807

“Every teacher in the public schools shall hold pupils to a strict account for their conduct on the way to and from school, on the playgrounds, or during recess. A teacher, vice principal,
principal, or any other certificated employee of a school district, shall not be subject to criminal prosecution or criminal penalties for the exercise, during the performance of his duties, of the same degree of physical control over a pupil that a parent would be legally privileged to exercise but which in no event shall exceed the amount of physical control reasonably necessary to maintain order, protect property, or protect the health and safety of pupils, or to maintain proper and appropriate conditions conducive to learning. The provisions of this section are in addition to and do not supersede the provisions of Section 49000.”

But a school district’s duty to supervise students under Ed.C. § 44807 does not replace the assumption of the risk as applied to organized extracurricular sports, because no amount of supervision can eliminate risks inherent in sports such as touch football.
Also, school districts are granted immunity from liability for unsupervised “recreational activities” even though they may take place on school property with the school’s explicit or implicit consent. [Yarber v. Oakland Unified School Dist. (1992)].

Gov.C. § 831.7

“(a) Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable to any person who participates in a hazardous recreational activity, including any person who assists the participant, or to any spectator who knew or reasonably should have known that the hazardous recreational activity created a substantial risk of injury to himself or herself and was voluntarily in the place of risk, or having the ability to do so failed to leave, for any damage or injury to property or persons arising out of that hazardous recreational activity.”

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

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