Perspective on School Liability for Sports Related Injuries
As student athlete concussions continue to receive national attention by the media, parents are interested to know if school districts and coaches are liable and can be pursued on behalf of injured kids and teens athletes.
Who is liable for kids and teens sports injuries?Public schools are agencies funded governmentally or federally and are, usually, shielded from sports liability. Therefore, public schools are not responsible for injuries sustained during sporting events. Parents or students are typically asked to sign a waiver with a clause relieving the school of responsibility.
By signing and allowing children to participate in the sport, parents show they understand the risks inherent in that game and the potential of injury and have assumed them. Inherent risks may be getting struck by a ball or falling and injuring a joint.
Private schools have different policies regarding sports, and you may need to inquire with an attorney to find out more.
In Florida, appellate courts have enforced parental waivers when used by schools or recreational entities, but the Supreme Court has ruled that parental waivers used by commercial entities are not enforceable.
Since 2015, the Florida High School Athletic Association mandates that all high school athletes in all sports attend and finish a free online course on concussions as a condition to compete. This measure can aid a school in establishing that it acted suitably in trying to prevent injuries.
When is a school liable for negligence?When appropriate safety precautions are not taken, and injuries occur parents may have cause for legal action. Examples include negligent supervision, return to play or practice too soon, use of faulty or unsafe sports equipment, poorly maintained or unsafe facilities, inadequate medical response, or the absence of an emergency medical response plan.
To recover damages for a Florida school-related sports injury, parents must prove the school's negligence and demonstrate how it caused injury.
Tips for preventing sports injuriesCan you prevent sports injuries in your kids or teens? Not always, but you should make sure to talk to them about how healthy pain-free activities should feel and about the importance of warming up and resting.
Inquire about the injury statistics when your child enrolls in a particular sport. Being informed about the most common types of injuries will allow you to take preventive actions. Also, you will be able to check that the team your child is playing on is correctly equipped.
Furthermore, find out from the health insurance company what type of coverage your policy provides.