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Who is Liable for My Child’s High School Sports Injury?

By Butler Prather LLP on July 1, 2019

If you have kids in middle or high school involved in sports, then you know there are risks of injuries. You may have even dealt with a few. However, sometimes high school sports injuries are severe. You need to know if anyone is liable if a serious injury does occur.

Who is Liable for My Child’s High School Sports Injury

What are the most common school sports injuries?

Many people automatically think of football when they think of sports injuries, but serious injuries can happen in any sports or recreation activity. This includes baseball, basketball, cheerleading, track, lacrosse, and more. With millions of teens participating in high school athletics all year long, there is a high potential for injuries.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, some of the most common high school sports injuries include:

  • Acute injuries caused by sudden trauma such as collisions with obstacles or people. These injuries can include bruises, sprains, strains, dislocations, and fractures.
  • Overuse injuries that are usually caused over time from a player performing the same motion over and over again. These injuries are also called repetitive stress injuries and can affect muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and growth plates. Stress fractures are also common overuse injuries.
  • Catastrophic sports injuries are those that cause trauma to the head and neck, damaging the spine, spinal cord, or brain. These injuries can have long-lasting consequences for victims.
  • Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries caused by a blow to the head or other part of the body that results in the rapid back and forth movement of the head. Even mild brain injuries can become serious injuries if not properly treated.

Can anyone be held liable?

Filing a personal injury lawsuit against a school or district for an injury that occurred while your child was playing a sport is difficult. The law assumes that those who participate in these sports and their parents are aware of the “inherent risks” associated with their participation.

For most school-related activities, athletes and parents are required to sign a waiver containing a release. This release relieves the school and their staff from liability if an injury occurs. It should also be noted that public schools are shielded from liability for sports-related injuries (though this is not always true for private schools).

There are circumstances where a personal injury lawsuit against the school could be possible. This is true in cases where there was negligence on the part of the:

  • School
  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Administrators

All of those parties have a duty to care for the students. When they fail to meet this duty, and an injury occurs that causes damages to the student, they could be held liable for the economic and non-economic losses a child and their family incurs.

Examples of this include:

  • A coach knowing of a hazardous or unsafe playing condition but allowing play or practice to continue (unsafe temperatures, holes on the field, etc.).
  • Allowing unauthorized people to participate in coaching or training.
  • Failure to enforce the rules of play, resulting in aggressive behavior that causes harm.
  • Not providing players with the proper equipment necessary to train or play.
  • Moving an injured athlete without proper care or training.

We should also note that these incidents could become product liability if the equipment your child used was defective, and an injury occurred as a result.

Posted in: Premises Liability

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