Youth sports injuries are injuries experienced by participants in youth sports teams and leagues. These types of injuries can have a unique nature due to the age and experience of the persons involved in youth sports. These usually involve children and teenagers under the age of 18, and may be connected with public school teams or city-sponsored organizations.
Some common youth sports activities include baseball, softball, soccer, and football. Individual sports, such as snowboarding and gymnastics are also popular. Team sports can often present more risk for injury due to the interaction with other players. However, individual sports can also present some risks as well.
Some common types of youth sports injuries can include:
- Muscle strains and sprained joints
- Abrasions and cut wounds
- Broken bones
- Head trauma or concussion
Lawsuits for youth sports injuries generally involve a monetary damages award to compensate the injured player for medical costs. In some cases, the child’s development can be a factor when calculating the damages award. This is because the child may still be physically growing, and major injuries during this age range can have permanent effects on the child’s abilities in the future.
Can a League or the School Be Liable for My Child’s Injuries?
One of the main barriers to recovering a damages award in a youth sports injury lawsuit is the notion of consent. In order to participate in most school, city, or county youth sports team, the child’s parent is usually required to sign a consent form or waiver.
This is a document stating that the parent and child understand the various risks associated with that particular sport. By signing, they may be releasing the school or city league from liability for injuries occurring in the normal course of the sports season.
On the other hand, the league or school may be held liable for allowing conduct that is outside the scope of the rules of the game. For example, if the league constantly allows excessive force in a basketball league, they may become liable for injuries resulting from the non-standard conduct of the players or coaches. This may be true in practice as well as during game time.
What about Coaches and Instructors?
In addition, it’s possible for coaches or instructors to be held liable for some youth sports injuries. Some forms of inappropriate coaching techniques and methods may include:
- Encouraging conduct or behavior that is outside the rules of the sport (i.e., playing “dirty” or using too much force for that type of sport)
- Failing to remove an injured player from a game
- Physically assaulting the youth (verbal assault can be actionable if it results in actual physical trauma to the child)
- Pushing the child beyond normal, reasonable limits during training and practice
- Failing to consult medical professionals if there is an emergency situation (such as when a child has an asthma attack or loses consciousness)
If the child becomes injured directly due to such conduct or decision-making by a coach, they might be required compensate the child for medical costs or other costs.
What Is Sports Violence?
Physical contact is a normal aspect of many youth sports, especially for sports like football and hockey or even basketball. However, “sports violence” is any type of conduct that steps outside of the normal rules and boundaries of contact for that sport. This can be judged differently according to what is appropriate for that type of sport.
For example, tackling other players is normal conduct for contact football. However, tacking another player would be highly inappropriate in a basketball game, since that isn’t allowed by the rules of the sport. In other words, sports violence involves breaking or disregarding the rules that all the other players have consented to.
Sports violence is highly discouraged at all levels of youth and school sports functions; if a player is found committing sports violence, that player (and sometimes their parents) might be held liable for injuries inflicted upon another youth player.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Youth sports injuries can sometimes involve serious injury to the child. You may wish to contact a personal injury lawyer if your child has suffered an injury through participation in youth sports. Your attorney can advise you of the laws in your area, and can help assist you during the formal court procedures.