Sports-related injuries happen, but when do I need to think about taking legal action?

Sports-related Injuries Happen

Sports are a great way to keep kids active. Most sports teach important life lessons such as teamwork, trust and responsibility, how to get along with others, and how to work with others to achieve a common goal. But, unfortunately, any physical activity comes with the risk of physical injury. This is especially true for high contact sports such as football, basketball and hockey. Each year, an estimated 38 million children and adolescents participate in organized sports in the United States. With numbers that high, sports-related injuries are bound to happen. It is estimated that approximately 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur every year, accounting for roughly 15% of all high school sports-related trauma reported.  A concussion is a Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI induced by an impulsive force transmitted to the head resulting from a direct or indirect impact to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere.

Where do sports-related injuries happen?

The highest rates of injuries occur in sports involving player contact and collisions. Sports with the highest injury rates include:

  • Basketball causes the most injuries in all age groups, particularly knee and ankle injuries.
  • Baseball and softball commonly cause soft-tissue injuries to muscles and tendons, including rotator cuff shoulder injuries and elbow strains.
  • Football injuries often include serious head and neck injuries, broken bones, and concussions.
  • Hockey players often suffer serious shoulder injuries, including dislocation, broken collarbones, concussions, and muscle strains.
  • Soccer injuries typically include knee and ankle sprains, knee injuries, broken foot bones, broken collarbone, wrist fractures, and concussions.
  • Cheerleading is a leading cause of sports injuries in young women from difficult cheer stunts and gymnastics.

Sports injuries can result in medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, or loss of future earnings. After a sports injury, many parents may wonder if they can sue the responsible party to recover for these losses. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney at The Cochran Firm is the ideal way to determine whether or not you have a claim and to ensure you get the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

Assumption of Risk

In most circumstances, people cannot sue for sports-related injuries that occur during the normal course of a sporting event. For example, if your child plays football, there is always a chance that your child will sustain a particularly hard hit and get a concussion. If they play hockey, a hard slap shot could fracture or even break a bone. We expect these circumstances to happen sometimes, and they are what is known in legal terms as “assumption of risk”. 

Assumption of risk is an affirmative defense in the law of torts that a defendant can raise in a negligence action. Assumption of risk refers to a legal doctrine under which an individual is barred from recovering damages for an injury sustained when he or she voluntarily exposed him or herself to a known danger. 

Preceding to participating in youth athletics, most parents or guardians are asked to sign a mandatory consent waiver as a condition to their child participating in the activity. These forms prevent you from suing the school or athletic league for “ordinary negligence,” which means injuries arising from inherent risks in the sport.

If I know there’s some risk, are there cases where I can sue?

With that being said, there are some situations in which a person may be able to sue. These include the following:

  • Intentional Acts – If another player intentionally injures your child, you may be able to sue them for any losses that you incur. An example of this situation includes fights or intentionally injuring an opponent when the play has stopped.
  • Recklessness – An athlete that recklessly injures another athlete may be held liable for the injuries that come after. 
  • Products Liability – Under product liability law, defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed sports equipment that causes injury may give rise to a legal claim.
  • Negligent Coaching – Negligent coaching is a common allegation among sports injuries. If a coach puts a player in an unreasonable or dangerous situation, he or she may be liable. 

 

Most sports injuries fall within the realm of  “assumption of risk” and therefore are not compensable. However, each situation is different and your child may be able to recover from their injuries if they were caused by intentional acts, recklessness, a defective product or negligent coaching.

Contact An Attorney Today

It is always best to consult with an experienced attorney. If you decide to file a lawsuit, hiring an attorney will provide you with the best chances of success. An experienced personal injury attorney knows what evidence you will need to prove your case and how to get over the hurdle of assumption of the risk. Our Personal injury attorneys work on contingency, meaning you don’t have to worry about out-of-pocket legal fees. For a FREE consultation give us a call at 1-800-THE-FIRM or visit us at www.cochranfirm.com.