Blocking Sled

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Q: I was 15-years old and a member of my high school’s junior varsity football team.  After the school day had ended, I changed into my practice gear in the locker room.  Then I went to the field with other members of my team to wait for practice to begin.  We were unsupervised while we waited; there were no coaches present on the field.

I and other members of the team began taking turns using a piece of equipment called a ‘blocking sled’ to catapult each other into the air.  Two other members of the team were propelled into the air, before I took my turn.  I was propelled about 10 or 15 feet into the air.  When I landed, I fractured both of my wrists.  About 20 minutes passed between the time we first went over to the blocking sled and the time that I was injured.

A: In assuming physical custody and control over its students, a school effectively takes the place of parents and guardians.  Accordingly, a school must take such care of its students as a parent of ordinary prudence would in comparable circumstances.  The school will be held liable for foreseeable injuries proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision.  The mere fact that the accident occurred following the formal end of classes for the day is without legal significance.

Possibly, the school will contend that your lawsuit is barred by the theory of ‘primary assumption of risk’.  This theory can place the risk of participation in an athletic activity on the participant, in order to facilitate free and vigorous participation.  Your attorney will argue that the theory is not applicable here.  The use of a blocking sled to catapult others into the air is not the sort of socially valuable voluntary activity that the theory seeks to encourage.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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