Sports Injuries at School: Who is Responsible?
If your child is one of the 30 million children and teens that participate in school-organized athletics, you’re already familiar with the pride of watching from the sidelines while your child plays the sport she loves. However, seeing your child sustain a sports injury is traumatizing and painful for both your child and your family. While over 3.5 million sports injuries in school sports every year, every case is unique and requires specific attention.
If you believe your child’s sports injury is a result of school, coach or athletic trainer negligence, pursuing the next steps can be a difficult task. Can the school be held liable? Who is responsible? What type of attorney should you hire?
What are the most common sports injuries sustained in school?
While safety is important in sports, an injury can still happen at any moment. Many sports injuries aren’t random accidents; some can be triggered by repetitive moment and activities specific to a sport. For example, tennis players will often face injuries resulting from swinging, so problems with the rotator cuff, wrist strains and tennis elbow are common. Plantar fasciitis, shin splints, sprains and joint damage are injuries that can occur from heavy amounts of running.
Many sports injuries are also dependent on equipment; for example, protection worn by baseball players is limited compared to that worn by football or lacrosse players. While baseball does not facilitate nearly as much contact as football or lacrosse, the risk of a sports injury in all three is comparable.
Sports injuries that are not as initially obvious as intense bodily pain are often brain injury. Concussions are a type of brain injury that affect 300,000 athletes between the ages of 15 and 24 every year.
While a concussion is not visible, symptoms can include:
- Memory problems and confusion
- Drowsiness and appearing lethargic
- Dizziness, balance problems and motor skill complications (such as difficulty walking)
- Double or blurred vision or sensitivity to light or noise
- Nausea or vomiting
My child has sustained a sports injury. Who is liable?
There are certain areas that courts have recognized as potential liability issues in school sports. While some sports injuries are inherent to particular sports and the risk of injury is assumed by participation, coaches, trainers and physicians whose actions increase the risk of this inherent nature can be held accountable for potential liability.
Areas of potential liability for sports injuries can include:
- Return to play: A coach or trainer permitted the child to return to playing the sport after sustaining a sports injury without appropriate action taken to address the injury.
- Inadequate facilities: An athletic facility is substandard in safety. This can include having faulty equipment or structure, inadequate medical equipment or improper training provided to students utilizing the facility.
- Misdiagnosis and improper treatment: A sports injury is unidentified or misdiagnosed, or recommendations for future assessments are not appropriate.
- Certification, training and supervision: Coaches, athletic trainers and physicians are not properly certified or trained to aid in the case of an injury, thus increasing the risk of furthering injury, or there is inadequate supervision over the students (negligence).
- Disclosure of confidential medical information: Student medical records are improperly viewed or shared without consent. This includes violating federal laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
What type of attorney can help with a sports injury case?
At KBG Injury Law, a personal injury attorney can seek compensation for the harm that was caused to your child as a result of a sports injury. If your child has sustained a concussion or other traumatic brain injury, attorneys that specialize in head injury compensation are available to help.