A lot of school-age children participate in summer sports through their schools or local athletic organizations -- and a lot of those children end up injured as a result.
In fact, sports injuries account for one-third of all childhood injuries. While the most common injuries are limited to minor sprains and muscle strains, others suffer life-threatening accidents that involve things like spinal cord damage, heat stroke, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
If you're the parent of a child who was injured in a sports accident, here's what you should know about your rights:
Waivers And Assumption Of Risk May Affect Your Ability To Sue
Most community sports leagues and schools require parents to sign a waiver (often called a "consent form") on their child's behalf in order to participate in a sport. These waivers generally only cover the school or organization for injuries that occur due to ordinary negligence.
In addition, you assume a certain amount of risk when you allow your child to participate in a sport -- although the inherent risks may vary based on the specific activity. For example:
- Baseball players can often expect to be hit by foul balls or injured while sliding into bases.
- Soccer players can generally expect to be hit by a ball or may end up with broken bones from field play.
- Track team runners may experience nausea, vomiting, or strained ligaments due to over-exertion.
For the most part, you cannot sue for damages or hold the sports organization or school liable for your child's medical bills when an injury arises out of ordinary negligence or just the inherent risk of the sport itself.
That Does Not Mean That A School Or Sports League Is Immune From Lawsuits
Waivers and assumption of risk don't extend to injuries that are caused by gross negligence or other causes. There are numerous times when a parent can -- and should -- file a lawsuit over a child's injuries.
Gross negligence is generally defined as a conscious disregard for other people's safety. Some examples of possible gross negligence include things like:
- Allowing a baseball player on the field, in the heat, despite the fact that he forgot his asthma medication -- which subsequently results in a fatal asthma attack
- Putting a football player back on the field right after a concussion -- leading to a permanent traumatic brain injury
- Encouraging a cheerleader to perform a dangerous backflip in a competition --which results in a spinal cord injury and paralysis
Schools and sports leagues can also be held liable for injuries caused by known issues that were left without a remedy. For example, if a coach knew that the football helmets his players were using were cracking during play and still let players wear them on the field, the school could be held liable for a child's traumatic brain injury.
If you're unsure of what to do after a child's serious sports injury, talk to an accident attorney today.