Millions of children and teens play a sport or join an athletic team at some point in their lives. Sports are often touted as a great way for youngsters to get exercise and learn valuable skills, such as dedication, teamwork, and self-confidence. Unfortunately, injuries are also a part of athletic activities. While bumps and bruises may not be much to worry about, traumatic brain injuries, fractures, and spinal cord injuries are potential threats children may face on the court or the field. So who is responsible for youth sports injuries? It can depend. Your child’s school or league may be liable, but it is also possible that your child’s coach or instructor may be responsible. Sports violence is another factor that can cause injuries, as well. Below, we’ll take a closer look at sports injury liability.
How Common Are Youth Sports Injuries?
More than 3.5 million children are seen in emergency rooms every year for sports-related injuries. They make up roughly one-tenth of all children and teens who play sports as a part of a youth league, in school, or with a sports club. About 62% of these sports injuries occur during practice, rather than during a game. This could be because 33% of parents and coaches take safety precautions less seriously during practice than they do during games.
The types of injuries sustained can vary by sport. Contact sports, including rugby and football, have higher rates of injury due to collisions and gameplay. Individual sports, like gymnastics and swimming, have lower rates of injury, but the injuries sustained in these sports are typically far more severe than other team sports.
Understanding Youth Sports Liability
When your child begins a new sport or a new season, you may need to fill out and sign some important paperwork. In addition to their emergency contact and registration form, it is likely that you will also sign a consent form or a waiver. This legal contract serves to protect the organization from being held liable for injuries, since you acknowledge and accept the risks of the sport when signing.
A waiver or consent form can be a huge obstacle in pursuing an injury claim against your child’s school, league, or club. This form may, however, hold the organization liable if it routinely allows for conduct outside the scope of the game. This can mean if the league generally allows excessive force to be used in games or practices, and your child is injured, the league can be held liable for not enforcing standard, safe conduct.
Can I File a Claim Against My Child’s Coach?
It may be possible to hold a coach or instructor responsible for your child’s injuries, if you can demonstrate that their negligence or actions led to your child’s injuries. Some inappropriate coaching methods or techniques may be:
- Encouraging conduct or behavior that goes against the rules of the sport, such as cheating, playing “dirty,” or using excessive force
- Failing to remove injured players from the game or adjust practice drills to accommodate their injuries
- Physically assaulting a child, or verbally assaulting them in a way that leads to physical harm—i.e. bullying or self-harm
- Pushing the child beyond reasonable limits in training, practice, or games
- Failing to call for emergency assistance or consult medical professionals in the event of a medical emergency, including an asthma attack or loss of consciousness
If your child is directly injured by their coach’s conduct or decisions, it is possible you may be able to file a claim against them and hold them financially responsible for your child’s injuries.
Injuries Due to Sports Violence
Physical contact isn’t uncommon in many sports, whether as a part of the game or on accident. When this conduct goes beyond acceptable contact for the sport, it may be considered sports violence. The definition of “sports violence” can vary, depending on the sport itself and the rules of the game.
Some examples of sports violence can include players punching or kicking other players, as well as tackling players in a non-contact sport. If the behavior involves disregarding the contact rules of the sport, it can be considered sports violence.
If another player or parent is violent towards your child, it is likely that you will be able to hold them liable. Minors cannot be held liable for another’s injuries, generally, but it is likely that you will instead file a claim against their parents or legal guardians.
If your child has been injured, our team at Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. is prepared to assist you. We understand how frightening and stressful it can be when your child is injured, so our compassionate, knowledgeable Kansas City personal injury attorneys will provide personalized legal solutions and trusted advice to see you through your claim. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about your case.
Contact our firm by calling (888) 398-2277 today.