School sports and extracurricular athletics are a huge part of growing up in South Carolina for many of our children. Sports can be tough on young bodies, though, and accidents and injuries can happen, potentially leaving parents on the hook for expensive medical bills. While there’s always some risk involved in playing sports, there are some situations that are above and beyond the usual injuries associated with athletic activities. Here’s what you need to know about common school sports injuries, and when to seek financial compensation for your injured child.
Common School Sports Injuries and Statistics
Whether it is little league baseball, intramural basketball, volleyball, wrestling, or another school sport, the safety of the players should always take priority over winning. Sports can be rough, though, especially contact sports like football. Safe Kids Worldwide reports that in 2013, over 2.6 million children (ages 19 and under) visited the emergency room for sports and recreation injuries, with football and basketball leading the pack in the number of injuries per sport.
Some of the more common or severe types of sports injuries may include the following:
- Joint dislocations
- Rotator cuff (shoulder) injuries or tears
- Bone fractures
- Injuries to the knee
- Spinal trauma
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears
These types of injuries may happen in the normal course of sports, and parents and children should be prepared for that eventuality. However, there are cases when injuries may be caused by negligence on the part of the school or other parties involved, so you should know your rights and how liability is determined.
Determining Liability in School Sports Injuries
When you agreed to let your child play sports, whether through school or as part of a league, you likely signed a waiver of liability. These are often boilerplate agreements that indemnify, or release, the institution or league from any liability due to injury. However, just because you signed a release does not mean that you gave up all your or your child’s legal rights.
Broadly speaking, schools, coaches, instructors, and other personnel have a legal duty of care to their young athletes. This duty of care is typically that they must protect their athletes from “unreasonable” or “concealed” risks. This may include properly maintaining the training ground, gym, or playing field in a safe condition. For example, if a school knows that the track or field is in a dangerous state of disrepair, yet continues to allow athletes onto the surface without sufficiently warning them of the dangers, a court may find that the school breached its duty of care and could be held liable for damages after an injury. This might be true even if you signed a liability release form.
A similar situation may occur with broken workout or training equipment. If your child is in a gymnastics program, and a lack of maintenance has caused a piece of equipment to fail and hurt a child, the school or gym may be found to have breached its duty of care and be held financially liable.
Inadequate supervision is another case when “gross negligence” may be at play. If coaches or instructors fail in any way to provide proper oversight of their young athletes and an injury that could have been prevented occurred, they could be held liable in a court of law.
Recovering Damages From a School Sports Injury
The child and parents of children who have suffered severe school sports injuries that have been caused by gross negligence may be forced to file a lawsuit against the school, the district, instructor, or any other person or group involved in the incident to recover damages. This can include fair compensation not only for the injury and any subsequent medical care, but also the mental anguish and overall impact the negligence has had upon your family.
If you are concerned about the rights of your child and whether legal action may be warranted after a school sports injury, it is best to speak to an attorney before you speak with the school or its insurance company. The Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger offers free consultations so that you and your family can get the help you need right away. You can reach us by telephone, use the live chat box, or send us an email at the contact link on this page to get the answers you need about school sports injury liability today. Our main office is located in Columbia, but we proudly serve clients from all over the state, including Lexington, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach.