There was an interesting recent High Court case just prior to Christmas where a student who sustained an injury while playing hockey lost a High Court action over an injury sustained. It seems the student in question slipped on wet grass as she retrieved a ball that had gone out of play.
The judge stated that ‘strange as it may seem, accidents can happen where somebody else is not to blame’.
Interestingly, the judge stated that sport was an important part of education in schools and not just in developing healthy minds in healthy bodies. He stated that if schools were to be made legally liable for students slipping on wet or mucky grass in the course of outdoor games it would be virtually impossible to include any outdoor games in the curriculum.
The allegation against the school was that there was insufficient lighting on the playing field and that the ground around the pitch was slippery. Needless to say these claims were denied and the school contended that hockey training only occurred when light permitted. The school has since got a new pitch and facilities the court was told.
The judge stated that the injury was not caused as a result of any negligent act or omission on the part of the school or any deficiency in the facilities provided by the school.
Costs to the Winning Side
In addition to losing the case, when her legal advisors requested that the costs of the action not be awarded against the student, as she was a student now starting out in her adult life in college, the court did not accept this and stated that costs usually go to the winning side and for this reason, costs were also ordered against the student for two days of a High Court hearing which would be substantial to say the least. The judge did state the sides should come to some arrangement with respect to the costs.
This is an interesting case from every perspective in that it is not putting an undue onus of responsibility on schools and equally there is a level of responsibility on the student to ensure that they are taking precautions for their own safety.