Who is liable when a minor is injured while playing school sports in Canada?

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Each year, many parents allow their children to try out for a school sports team with the expectation that it will be a safe and harmless extracurricular activity. While this is generally true, the reality is that accidents can and do still happen. As Canada’s largest personal injury law firm, Diamond and Diamond Lawyers is all too familiar with personal injury accidents that happen on school grounds in Canada. The firm’s Managing Partner, Sandra Zisckind, discusses some of the need-to-know details about personal injury law and school sports.

In Canada, liability for injuries sustained by a student on a school sports team may vary depending on the circumstances of the injury. Generally speaking, schools and their staff owe a duty of care to students and are required to take reasonable steps to ensure their safety while participating in school sports. “While specific safety expectations are situation-dependent, there is typically always an expectation of proper supervision while players are practising or playing a game,” says Sandra Zisckind.

Below are a few things to keep in mind if you plan on allowing your child to play school sports:

  1. If a student is injured while playing on a school sports team, liability may fall on various parties depending on the specific circumstances.
    1. School boards: In some cases, liability may fall on the school board for failing to provide adequate resources or supervision for the sports team.
    2. Coaches and staff: Coaches and staff may be held liable if they acted negligently or breached their duty of care to the students. The duty of care expected by a coach who oversees minors is that of a “careful and prudent parent,” as established in the leading case, Myers v. Peel County Board of Education, [1981] S.C.R. 21. For example, if a coach failed to properly and adequately instruct students on how to safely use equipment, they may be held liable for injuries that result from improper use of the equipment.
    3. Other players: If a student is injured due to the actions of another player that was caused by the other player’s negligence, the negligent player (and their parents if they are a minor) may be held liable for their actions.
  2. Due to the physical nature of sports, schools will often have parents sign a waiver acknowledging the known risks involved with playing a particular sport. Even without a signed waiver, there is still an implied assumption of risk involved in allowing your child to play a sport. “While the risks involved and prevalence of injuries will vary between sports, it’s important to remember that accidents can happen throughout the course of any game,” says Sandra Zisckind.

Like all personal injury cases, it’s important to note that liability is determined on a case-by-case basis and that the outcome of all cases can be influenced by a variety of factors. If someone you love was injured during a school sports game or practice, it’s important to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer to get a better understanding of the options available. Call us today at 1-800-567-HURT to schedule a free consultation.

About Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and member of both Ontario and Florida Bars. Jeremy practices in the area of Plaintiff personal injury litigation. Click here to learn more about Jeremy Diamond.