Can I Sue for my Child’s Sports Injury?

Sports are an important part of academia and the growing up process. Playing sports and being involved in a team is invaluable to teaching life lessons and coping skills. Sports can also be a relief from stress for many kids or a way to excel. Sadly, as with any physical activity, there are risks of injury. This is even more true when it comes to sports like football, hockey, soccer, baseball and other contact sports. Football and soccer are said to be the two most dangerous contact sports. Sports injuries are costly, debilitating and can cause a lifetime of pain. They require significant medical expense, diminished quality of life, pain, suffering, and perhaps a loss of future earning potential. When faced with some of these losses, parents often wonder if they are able to sue to recover for them and others they may have incurred since the injury.

According to Safe Kids USA, more than 3.5 million children per year suffer severe sports-related injury. Traumatic brain injury is a commonly seen sports injury in children. It is most often cause by head blows from smashing into another player, a hard fall, or even hitting their head on equipment. Certain game moves can even cause player injury, such as “the header” in soccer. Football players not only receive a lot of head trauma but also have a significant risk for knee and ankle injury. Lacrosse is ranked as the third most dangerous sport for children. Wrestling and cheerleading are also on the list. While these sports are known to be more dangerous than others and consistently see severely injured players each year. They are still offered in school systems across the country.

These dangerous sports are offered and even required in some classes, but parents are required to sign a consent prohibiting them from suing the school or athletic organization if injury occurs. The consent form says they understand there is an inherent risk of injury in playing the game and realize their child may get seriously hurt. These consent forms work on the legal doctrine described as “assumption of the risk,” which states that when people participate in unsafe activities they shoulder the risk of injury knowingly.

A school and/or sports organization can be held responsible legally for a child’s sports related incident in specific cases. The injury must have been caused by a risk not inherent to the sport. Some examples of injuries caused by risks not inherent to the sport are:

Intentional Cruelty – Other players can intentionally hurt your child due to jealousy or game issues. This could be on the field or in the locker room. This could include physical fights or intentional sabotage to incur injury. Any of these types of injuries may be open to a law suit to recover any damages they may have caused.

Recklessness – Athletes are known to lose their temper. Hardly a year goes by without players throwing bats into the diamond, tripping, shoving, and smacking each other, or otherwise throwing a tantrum. Reckless behavior like that can cause injury and sometimes serious damage. It does not have to be intentional. Any reckless behavior resulting in an injury may be enough to warrant a lawsuit.

Products Liability – Products liability laws hold that defectively designed, mass-produced, and/or marketed sports apparatus and equipment which causes injury may give rise to a legal claim. If the helmet your football player was wearing was defective, you may have a case.



Negligent Coaching – When a coach fails to recognize a player’s inability to compete at a specific level or does not identify an inherent danger in playing such as wet playing surfaces, he or she is potentially at risk of being held liable for any injuries that arise as a result. Parents and players accept the inherent risk of sports games with the assumption the coaches and staff are professionally able to govern best practices under the school’s watch. When they fail to maintain this standard, a lawsuit may be appropriate.

When you allow your child to play sports in school, you know that there is a risk of getting hurt. Signing the consent form protects the school against lawsuits for injuries that parents knew could occur. It should not deter parents from seeking legal recourse, however, if their child was hurt due to some form of negligence that should not have happened. Talking with a seasoned personal injury attorney will help determine if a case should go forward.

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