Youth Sports and Liability
Sports can teach children the value of teamwork and encourage physical fitness, but they’re also inherently dangerous. That may be scary to think about, but some amount of danger isn’t always a bad thing: who hasn’t skinned a knee climbing a tree? Unlike tree climbing, however, sports practices are supposed to be supervised by multiple adults. On the rare occasion that going to practice means breaking an arm, we expect those adults to ensure the child’s safety. Sometimes they don’t do enough.
Certain risks are to be expected. Stubbed fingers, skinned legs, and bruises are all par for the course, so coaches should be trained in first aid. In the South, especially during the warmer months, going to practices means being at risk for heat stroke and dehydration. Coaches are expected to provide water and chances to cool down to prevent those problems. Heat stroke and dehydration can be fatal, and coaches that do not try to prevent it or do not act quickly enough can be held liable.
In the event of more serious injuries, such as broken bones or concussions, the adults in charge are expected to call paramedics as quickly as possible and keep the situation under control. But some coaches ignore the seriousness of heat stroke or concussions, instead trying to make the child ‘walk it off’ rather than seeking help. As with heat stroke, if their actions prevent a child from receiving the medical attention she needs, the coach may be liable for negligence.
Every year there are young people who are tragically killed or seriously injured while playing sports, but much of that suffering can be prevented with the right precautions and prompt medical attention in the event of a problem. As parents, we expect adults who are in charge during practices to exercise common sense and seek help. If they do not, the emotional, financial, and medical toll on the child and his or her family can be serious.
There are few things more difficult for a parent than seeing their child suffer. If your child or the child of someone you know has been injured or fallen ill playing sports, and you do not think the coach or other adults did not take the actions they should have to help your child, you may be able to win compensation for your medical bills and suffering.