Any type of involvement in a school sport comes with some degree of risk of injury. However, if school officials fail to create a safe environment for children to participate in organized sports, a serious injury can occur. If your child has been injured while participating in a school sport, you may be able to take legal action against the parties responsible.
School Sports Injuries Caused By Negligence
Although injuries are very much a part of school sports, not all are inherent to the sport. In some circumstances, negligence can be responsible for an athlete’s injuries. A few examples of negligence that may lead to a student-athlete injury include (but are not limited to):
- A student-athlete was given damaged, inadequate, or inappropriate safety gear.
- An adult wasn’t present or wasn’t properly supervising an activity
- A student-athlete was harmed due to an instance of bullying or hazing
- A student-athlete was coaxed to over-train or over-exert themselves.
- A dangerous condition existed at a sports facility, gym, or setting where the sport takes place.
- A coach failed to follow laws designed to protect athletes with concussions
- A student was not given (or given inadequate) medical attention after an injury
School sports injuries can be particularly devastating due to the age of participants. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons cautions that children’s bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing,” which makes them more susceptible to a sports injury. Injuries to certain places in the body, including growth plates and cartilage where bone growth occurs, can result in disrupted growth. Severe injuries to a child or adolescent can result in significant treatment costs and medical bills. This is especially true for catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, which can have lifelong physical and cognitive effects and may require lifelong care.
Who Is Liable?
Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, a child’s school, a school hosting a game or match, or even an entire school district may be liable for the actions of a negligent employee (such as a coach, assistant coach, athletic director, or nurse). This can also apply to an employee who fails to act (for example, failing to take proper precautionary measures or to provide adequate medical care following an injury).
In previous years, state laws granted public schools immunity from lawsuits involving student injury. Now, many states have revised these outdated laws, opening up public schools to lawsuits. Nevada law governing school liability holds that schools and school districts are liable for the negligent acts of employees within the scope of their employment. Additionally, a school in California can be held liable if parents can prove negligence on behalf of an employee.
If you feel you or your child has suffered a sports injury due to a school or coaches negligence, it’s important you contact a personal injury attorney immediately for advice.