Are you excited for hockey season to begin this year? Sports fans in Bloomington and throughout Indiana are ready for another exciting hockey season, including high school players and their parents. Many of the high schools throughout our area have hockey teams that offer students and excellent form of competitive team experience. As parents cheer their teens to victory, a sports injury is a frightening possibility that many parents pray they never face.
High School Sports Injuries
Each year, 30 million teenagers and children participate in organized sports. Unfortunately, roughly 3.5 million of those children will be injured each year while participating in sports. While participation in sports has many benefits, injuries are bound to occur as a natural part of competitive play. In fact, injuries occur even when players are not playing another team. Over half of sports injuries occur during team practice.
Injuries can happen in any sport; however, sports that involve contact account for the highest rate of injuries. Concussions, broken bones, sprains, strains, and facial injuries are common in hockey. For most parents, the risk of injury is not enough to prevent them from allowing their teen to participate in high school sports. However, parents should be aware of the risk for injury and who is responsible for the costs of a high school sports injury.
Who Pays For A High School Sports Injury?
When your teen signs up to play sports, you are required to sign a release and waiver before your child can play. This release and waiver protect the school, coaches, and others associated with the team from “any and all liability” in the event of an injury. Schools use waivers to protect themselves from liability and injury lawsuits. Releases and waivers also put parents on notice that they are assuming the risk of injury along with their child.
An “assumption of risk” implies that you and your teen knew of the risk of injury but decided to proceed regardless of this risk. The law protects parties from injury lawsuits when the person knowingly engaged in a potentially dangerous or hazardous activity. Therefore, in most cases, parents and student cannot file injury lawsuits against the school, coaches, team members, or other parties when a student is injured while playing a sport. However, there are some limited circumstances in which you may have a valid claim against the school or another party for a sports injury.
The Limits of Sports Injury Lawsuits
The assumption of risk legal theory does not cover intentional acts. If your child is injured because another player intentionally did something to cause injury to your child, you may have a valid claim.
If a piece of sports equipment is faulty, you may have a claim against the manufacturer, designer, distributor, or another party under product liability laws.
When you assume the risk of injury, you do so with the assumption that all parties will act in a reasonable and responsible manner. Parties acting in a reckless manner could give rise to an action.
A coach has a duty to protect his players. If a coach pushes players to perform at a level above the players’ skills, this could be negligent. Likewise, if a coach places a player in a situation the coach knows could cause harm, the court may consider this negligent.
What Can Parents Do?
Before your child begins playing a sport, check your health insurance coverage to ensure sports injuries will be covered. If necessary, discuss purchasing a special insurance policy to cover sports injuries with your insurance agent. Be an active participant in your child’s sport. Do not simply drop off your child at practice, stay at practice as often as possible to observe what is going on and how your child is being coached.
If your child is injured, consult with a Bloomington personal injury attorney to discuss injury lawsuits. Most injuries do not give rise to a legal claim; however, some cases should be litigated. Whether your child’s sports injury falls within that category depends on the facts.