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Tug-of-War at School: Teens' Fingers Severed

By Tanya Roth, Esq. | Last updated on

We all know tug-of-war games can get aggressive, but two students actually severed their fingers in a tug-of-war match at school.

The friendly game turned gruesome for two teens at California's South El Monte High School, where the tug-of-war was part of "spirit week" festivities.

About 40 students were participating in the game during lunch time Monday, Los Angeles' KTLA-TV reports. The rope snapped, and two students had their fingers severed.

The injured students, a male and a female, were taken to hospital and underwent surgery to reattach their fingers.

But in the midst of this freak accident, it begs the question whether fingers should be pointed at the school. After all, the accident occurred on school premises during school hours.

How does a game of tug-of-war end up severing fingers? Well, the game involves groups on two sides pulling at a strong rope. It's not unforeseeable that the rope would somehow get tangled around someone's fingers, and potentially sever them if there was enough force.

That makes tug-of-war games a huge potential liability, since foreseeability is a key factor in a personal injury lawsuit.

Have a look at some other tragic cases involving tug-of-war games: A Minnesota girl lost four fingers in a 2008 game of tug-of-war; in Taiwan, two men lost their arms, according to KTLA.

Such known risks may eventually play a role in any potential lawsuit the students or their parents may end up filing over the tug-of-war accident at school. In fact, a worldwide tug-of-war association recommends using a specific type of rope to prevent injury, KTLA reports; it's not clear what type of rope was used in the game at school.

Knowing the risks, schools may want to reconsider whether they should allow tug-of-war games to be played on school grounds. That's exactly what school officials in South El Monte are doing after Monday's accident.

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