Gym Injuries: Who’s Liable?

When we send our kids to school, we put our trust in the adults there to keep them safe and sound. Few responsibilities are as important as that of the teachers, principals, and guardians charged with safeguarding the most precious people in our lives.

Sadly, students do sometimes suffer injury in the course of a school day, and the school’s negligence is often to blame. In spite of their legal duties and the extensive training they receive, school officials can unwittingly create dangerous conditions or fail to address unsafe situations, giving rise to student injury.

The gym class is an especially common site for schoolhouse injuries. In fact, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, more than 60,000 students injured in gym class every year end up in the emergency room (and that’s in the United States alone).

Not all of those injuries are attributable to school negligence — but too many of them are. When school officials fail to meet their legal duty of care toward your children, they can be held financially accountable for the injuries that result. Contact Tucker Lawyers PC at (516) 399-2364 to speak to an attorney who will help you get the money you deserve.

At Tucker Lawyers PC, we understand that conflict with your child’s school can be complicated. After all, he or she is likely still enrolled there, and some parents are reluctant to “make waves,” even when their children have been unfairly injured. We also know that most teachers and school administrators are noble and hardworking people who do their very best in the face of demanding expectations. Still, we believe parents should never be asked to bear the financial burden of a school system’s negligence all by themselves.

We have many years of experience in gym class injuries and school liability. Schools have extensive resources and often operate like a bureaucracy, making it difficult for parents to take a stand. Even private schools tend to take hard stands in the face of parental complaints or concerns. But with our experienced New York school accident attorneys on your side, you can level the playing field and insist on justice.

When Is a School Liable for Gym Class Injuries?

What to Know Before Contacting a Lawyer

Not every gym injury is the school’s fault. For example, a student who volunteers to participate in a game of basketball and then trips in the normal course of playing that sport is unlikely to have a claim against the school, absent some evidence that the school was negligent or unreasonable in making that activity more dangerous than it otherwise would have been.

To establish school liability for gym class injuries, the plaintiff must generally demonstrate that the school failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the injury or that the school’s own actions created a dangerous situation. In other words, the school must have been negligent.

It’s important to note that “negligent” does not mean “intentional.” School officials rarely intentionally cause injuries. Even unintentional action (or inaction) is enough to establish school liability if it was unreasonable or in violation of the school’s duties.

So how do you distinguish a “pure accident” from negligence?

That can be complicated, especially in a gym class. The distinction usually comes down to the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the injury.

As New York school accident attorneys, we can sit down with accident victims and their parents to explore the many questions that help determine whether the school might be liable.

These questions include:

  • Was the class mandatory?
  • Did the student voluntarily participate in the activity?
  • Were there any unsafe conditions in the gym?
  • Did the activity take place somewhere other than the gym?
  • How did the teacher or coach behave?
  • Have similar accidents happened there in the past?
  • Was the activity unusual in any way?
  • Were there eyewitnesses?
  • Does the victim suffer from any medical conditions relevant to the injury?
  • Did you see a school nurse or doctor?
  • How severe are the injuries?
  • Was an adult present for supervision?

These are just a few of the factors that might be relevant. The answer to any one of these questions is not necessarily decisive on the issue of liability. Never draw any conclusions about school liability for gym class injuries until you’ve talked with our experienced New York school accident attorneys.

Intentional Action

While most gym class injuries are either accidents or a result of negligence, occasionally a child might be injured by an intentional act. For example, a gym teacher might push a student harder than they should because they want to punish the kid somehow. This is not only unacceptable, but it also makes the teacher and the school liable for any harm the child suffers.

If you suspect someone is intentionally harming your child, contact the authorities and a personal injury lawyer at Tucker Lawyers PC as soon as possible.

Unusual Gym Class Injuries

Gym Injuries That Often Go Unnoticed

People tend to think about gym class injuries in terms of cuts, bruises, fractures, slips and falls, and other routine injuries. While those and similar damages can actually be quite serious and may very well be compensable, we also want parents to look for less obvious injuries. Examples include:

  • Dehydration
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke
  • Blood sugar issues
  • Failure to respond to a student’s health-related complaints or concerns
  • Concussions (which may be much more severe than anyone realizes)
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Inadequate adult supervision leading to bullying, assault, or an accidental injury
  • Cardiac or cerebral injuries (heart attack, stroke, etc.)
  • Injuries that develop gradually over time
  • Preexisting conditions made worse by school negligence
  • Physical and/or emotional distress caused by a teacher or coach who insists on excessive activity or exhibits emotional abuse.

These are only a few examples of the less obvious gym class injuries parents should keep an eye out for. Schools may be liable in many of these circumstances.

Gym injuries aren’t always obvious. If your child is complaining after gym class or seems a little off, don’t take a chance. Speak with a personal injury lawyer and get your child medically evaluated as soon as possible. Contact Tucker Lawyers PC at (516) 399-2364 to get help today.


If you are like most parents, when your child is hurt at school, you want to know everything about what happened and what you can do to help them recover. At Tucker Lawyers PC, parents often ask more questions in the first 10 minutes than other clients ask over the entire course of their case. We are parents, too, so we strive to answer your questions as thoroughly as possible to assuage your fears.

  • Can my child be exempted from gym class?

    Gym class is required in New York, and the New York State Education Department does not provide waivers for children to skip this requirement. However, if your child has a medical disability, you can provide the school with a medical certificate of limitation that indicates how your child can and can’t participate.

  • Is the school liable if a teacher is responsible for an injury?

    Typically, the school is responsible for the actions of teachers while they are on duty, even if those actions violate school policy. Thus, if a gym teacher ignored the fact that your child was dehydrated, the school would be liable for the harm your child suffered. However, we may want to sue both the school and the teacher individually, so make sure our lawyers know exactly what happened that day.

  • How can the school be liable if a teacher isn’t liable?

    There are several ways the school can be responsible even if an individual isn’t. For example, if the school hasn’t been properly maintaining the equipment in the gym, that could be the reason your child got injured. You’d still have a strong premises liability case against the school, even though no teacher would be responsible.

  • Is the school liable if my child was hurt by other students during gym class?

    It might be. The teachers have a duty to maintain order and prevent students from hurting each other. If the gym teachers allowed the students to act unsupervised, those teachers would be responsible for the harm caused by the other students. And since the teachers are responsible, the school is liable.

  • Should I accept a settlement from the school?

    Never accept a settlement until your lawyer has had a chance to examine the facts of your case and determine the value of the injuries your child suffered. School attorneys will often offer a quick settlement to get rid of your case. But if it isn’t enough money to cover your child’s medical bills, you will be stuck with the difference.

  • How long do I have to take legal action after my child is injured in gym class?

    New York imposes a statute of limitations on all personal injury cases. You may file a lawsuit within three years of your child’s injury. If you wait longer than that, typically, you will have lost the chance to take legal action, though there may be exceptions if you weren’t aware of the injury at first. Our lawyers can tell you more during your free consultation.

As lawyers who are also parents, we know that if anything happened to our children, we wouldn’t stop asking questions until we were satisfied with all the answers. We expect you to have a million questions and are happy to answer all of them during your free case evaluation.

Why Choose Tucker Lawyers PC?

From the day it was founded, Tucker Lawyers PC has been dedicated to giving back to the New York community. Our mission is to help our neighbors fully recover when they have been victims of negligence. And when we aren’t helping in the courtroom, we are supporting local charities and non-profits that make New York a better place to live.

Your children are an important part of our community. We wouldn’t do what we do if we didn’t want the next generation to live better lives than the current generation. But we can’t ignore their present while focusing on their future. When a child is injured in a gym accident, we pull out all the stops to ensure they get the best representation possible. Our premises liability attorneys will investigate every aspect of the case and gather as much evidence as possible to get your child the maximum possible compensation.

And just as importantly, we will do what we can to help your child get the care they need to recover from a serious injury. Most of our clients don’t know where to find doctors or hospitals that specialize in youth or athletic injuries. Our attorneys are familiar with the local medical options and will help you find the best medical care for your child.

If your child has been seriously hurt, you need an attorney that cares about them almost as much as you do. That is what you will get at Tucker Lawyers PC.

Have Questions? Ask Us.

If you or your child has been injured in a gym class in New York, the talented legal team at Tucker Lawyers PC can help. We have considerable experience in this area, and we are dedicated to fighting for the justice your family deserves.

Our office is conveniently located in New York City, with legal representation available statewide. Contact our office to set up a free consultation with NYC personal injury lawyer in Staten Island today.

Your child should be safe from harm when they are at school. When they get hurt in gym class, something has gone wrong. Our law firm will help you make things right again. Contact us today at (516) 399-2364 to speak to an attorney who can explain how.

john tucker

Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.

John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]

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