Jun 24

Injuries During School Sports and Athletics – Who’s to Blame

by Tate Law Offices, P.C.Unsafe Property

School football game

Participating in school sports is a wonderful way for children to develop motor skills, get exercise, and strengthen bonds of friendship with other players on the team. Unfortunately, though, sports in school are also a common source of serious injury to kids; statistics from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide that “high school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries” per year.

Of course, the most important step to take after your child sustains a sports injury is ensuring they get the medical treatment necessary. With this, it is necessary to understand certain specifics of Texas law that may allow you to recover adequate compensation from the party liable for the injury.

Assumption of Risk

Most school sports leagues require that participants sign a waiver before engaging in any conduct. These waivers are meant to demonstrate that the participant consents to the risks inherent in the sport, and generally shields a school or coaches from liability for any injuries sustained while playing the game. This was highlighted in the Texas case Willis v. Willoughby, in which the injured party was unsuccessful in a civil suit due to the trier of fact ruling that the injuries sustained were foreseeable, and that the risk was assumed contractually beforehand.

It is important to note that express waivers must adhere to specific guidelines in order to be enforceable; more specifically, these waivers must be drafted properly according to state law, and can’t violate any public policy or state laws. Additionally, for the assumption of risk defense to be valid, the injury must have arisen from risks provided in the consent form.

School Negligence

School-aged athletes and their parents must understand that certain injuries may arise out of the general course of play, and may be an unfortunate burden to bear. In some cases though, the negligence of the sports organization, the school, or even the coaches may have led to an injury to a player, in which case that player may be able to recover compensation from the liable parties.

Texas law specifically defines gross negligence as “an act or omission, which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor…involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others.” This ultimately means that the actions of a coach, official, or even an entire organization may be deemed negligent if they were performed at the expense of a player. For example, if temperatures rose to abnormally high levels on a certain day (as is normal in Texas), and the school advised against practices being held outside, yet the coach led practice anyway, causing three students to suffer from heat stroke, these affected players may highlight the coach’s negligence as reason to initiate a civil suit. Furthermore, any injuries that occur as a result of faulty equipment may demonstrate negligence on behalf of the school or sporting organization.

An Attorney Can Help You Recover

In most cases, schools and related sporting organizations will aggressively defend themselves against a civil suit, and will attempt to protect coaches or other officials, which is why it is imperative that you seek the services of an experienced Texas personal injury attorney if your child has been injured. Our legal professionals can help highlight negligence on behalf of the school or other third party in order to secure you the compensation you deserve. Please contact us by calling 888-662-3892 for a free case review.