Coach Liability for On-Field Sports Injuries

coach, Hartford personal injury attorneyWhile school-aged children around the country are getting back into the full swing of classes, many parents and members of the community look forward to fall Friday nights, the traditional setting for high school football games. There are few things that match the pageantry of a football game: the marching band, the cheerleaders, excitement by the teams on both sidelines, and then the cracking of pads as the game gets underway. When the action comes to screeching halt due to an injury on the field, however, there is often a moment of terror for the injured player’s family.

In most cases, on-field injuries are relatively minor—cramps, sprains, strains—are all very common in football and other interscholastic sports. Sometimes, however, things are much more serious. Broken bones, torn ligaments, and head or neck injuries can have a dramatic impact on the player’s future. If your child has been seriously injured on the field of play, you may be wondering if it is possible to hold the coaching staff liable for your child’s injuries.

Assumption of Risk

By participating in a sporting activity, a player automatically assumes a level of risk appropriate to the particular sport. Football, for example, is a violent contact sport in which the rules of the game permit aggressive hitting, tackling, and blocking. Golf, by contrast, carries dangers of sprains and strains, but virtually no risk of being physically injured by another competitor. With that in mind, it is absolutely impossible for a coach to remove all risk of injury from a sport.

Instructional Responsibility

That is not to suggest that coaches bear no responsibility for the safety of their players. In fact, the truth is quite to the contrary. When the game itself presents elevated risks, coaches are even more responsible for properly training, disciplining, and equipping players for participation. Coaches must also ensure that their players have received appropriate instruction and that reasonable steps are taken to protect each player’s well-being.

Potential Liability

A coach may be held liable for a player’s injury if it can be shown that the coach acted in a manner that was negligent, reckless, or intended to harm the player. For example, if a player comes to the sideline complaining of dizziness and blurry vision, he or she should be evaluated for a concussion. If the coach, however, dismisses the player’s complaints and puts the player back in the game without an evaluation, the coach could be liable for a sustained injury.

A real-world example is expected to make its way into a New Hampshire courtroom next year, as a former high school football player is suing the school and his coaches for failing to provide adequate instruction prior to a full-contact tackling drill. During the drill, the young man suffered a severe spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. The lawsuit contends that coaches were negligent by failing to demonstrate proper tackling technique.

Seek Legal Advice

If your child has been injured playing a sport, it is important for you to understand your available options for compensation. Contact an experienced Connecticut personal injury attorney for a free consultation today. Call the Woolf Law Firm, LLC at
860-290-8690.

 

Sources:

http://cehdclass.gmu.edu/jkozlows/lawarts/05MAY15.pdf

https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/3359287/jaworski-v-kiernan-no-cv-940464969s-aug-1-1996/

http://www.unionleader.com/Courts/Paralyzed-Nashua-player-sues-district-ex-coaches-09022016

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