This is a follow up response to Instructors Shocking Response To Student’s Injury

John Graden’s Response

For over 20-years I have advocated for self-policing to avoid any kind of government regulation. That’s why I create the MATA Certification program. It’s a universal instructor certification program that helps to complete the education process for professional instructors. In short, it’s the kind of education that could prevent these kinds of events.

Analysis from Jennifer Urmston of SFIC

There are a number of teaching points from an insurance coverage perspective that I will note below from this story. I believe, however, that the bigger issue is for this school to embrace the ideals and beliefs of their teaching and live by them, having the same honor and compassion with their student that they taught. There was definitely a way to embrace this student without putting the school in any legal jeopardy for a claim.

Regarding the social media post, this may have been what upset the instructor and manager but they could have prevented it by being more proactive in helping the student come back to class successfully.

From the perspective of liability insurance coverage, the following points are important for this story:

1) The instructor should have been actively supervising the grappling during which the student was physically injured. Period. There should always be supervision for grappling. There is too much risk of injury for the instructor to walk away.

2) After any incident when there is possible injury, a written incident report should be prepared and copies kept on file. All parties should sign the statement if possible.

3) Either the instructor or manager should reach out to the injured party to follow up via whatever method is best for the student until the student is able to return. Ask if they prefer a phone call or an email.

4) If a student injures another student by either being too aggressive or horsing around or different skill levels, etc, then that student should have a documented reprimand to try to prevent a similar injury happening. It is ok to reassure the injured student that the questionable behavior was addressed and they don’t need to fear it upon their return.

5) This injured student should have been able to have an open conversation about the incident upon returning to the school and their feelings should have been acknowledged compassionately.

The instructor or manager or both could have acknowledged the student’s feelings without admitting to fault on behalf of the school. Example, “We understand that this has been difficult for you and we are sorry. We want to help you feel safe and comfortable coming back to class. What can we do to help you?” Ask then reassure them that the behavior has been addressed, there will be supervision, and that they are welcome.

6) Medical Expenses – When general liability coverage is written with No-Fault coverage for medical payments, students can turn in medical bills for reimbursement without the school admitting to fault as a “goodwill” gesture. We include $10K of coverage for these types of medical payments in our policy.

This story is an example of the situations where we feel that goodwill is important both to prevent lawsuits and for the school to thrive. This could have helped turn a negative incident into a positive for the school.

Thank you very much for bringing this real-world story to me. Although I am always saddened to hear of injuries, real-world situations teach us and, hopefully, can help the martial arts community grow.

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts? Please share them below and send this article to your colleagues in the martial arts.