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Back to School: Liability for Sports Injuries, Who Pays?

As the commercials on television started to tell us at the end of July, it is back to school time again. Time for the kids to get their supplies and attempt to read their summer reading list in five days. Or it could be that you have a student athlete that already started their preseason camp and games like the Pats that has you acutely aware of the upcoming school year.

No matter how you know that the school year is upon us, it is good to know what your school could be liable for if your student athlete is injured. While it is generally true that a school or coach is not at fault when a student is harmed during practice or a game, there are certain situations that could make the school liable in a personal injury lawsuit.

When a kid plays a sport like football or soccer, there is an amount of contact that is expected (obviously more with football). When you engage in a sport like that you are consenting to the contact and assuming the risks that come with that contact.

This means that injuries stemming from normal gameplay usually can’t be the basis for a personal injury lawsuit. There must be some sort of extenuating factor that would place liability in the school’s hands. Things like an improperly set up weight room, a coach forcing an injured player to play, or a punch to the face by another player during play are actions that can shift liability from the individual player to a school.

For example, an injury from a tackle in a football game is not anybody’s fault. However, if a coach is forcing your kid back into the game after they’ve complained of a head injury, there is the possibility that the coach could be liable for any further injury because the coach was reckless in making the player play.

Let’s hope for an injury free fall season and a school year without a school’s liability for sports injuries.

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