The Friday night lights shine bright in Kentucky. Football is more than just a pastime here. It’s a major source of entertainment and a showcase of athletic performance. Parents come to watch their children compete, trusting that the coaches and supervisors will ensure the safety of the athletes as much as possible.
But sometimes that doesn’t happen.
No matter the sport — football, basketball, softball, soccer, cheerleading, or gymnastics — children often suffer from negligent coaches who put winning above student-athletes’ health and safety. Ignoring a young person’s cries of pain, overlooking their medical needs, or turning a blind eye to their suffering can result in devastating injuries that permanently put them on the bench. In severe examples, coaching negligence could lead to a tragic death.
Coaches are meant to hone the skills of promising young athletes. They help them get in shape, learn the intricacies of the sport, and build healthy training and exercise habits. But their most important job is to ensure the health and well-being of young athletes whose bodies are still growing, changing, and maturing. When a coach ignores this part of the job, children get hurt. According to Stanford Children’s Health, more than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 are hurt every year playing sports. The National Athletic Trainers Association estimates that about 90 percent of high school-aged student-athletes will suffer from some form of sports-related injury.
If your child has suffered a severe injury or complication from a sports-related injury that a coach caused or ignored, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact the Kentucky personal injury lawyers at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP for valuable legal advice. Negligent coaches may be liable for damages, but are often shielded from liability when parents start demanding answers.
Let the experienced team of sports injuries attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP review the circumstances of your case and give you the sound legal advice you need to take the appropriate next steps. To schedule a no-obligation case evaluation, contact us at (859) 550-2900 today.
What Are Sports-Related Injuries?
Physical activity helps facilitate the normal and healthy growth of a child. But when the level of activity becomes excessive for a growing and changing body, a sports-related injury is often the result. The majority of sports-related injuries in student-athletes are caused by the overuse or the improper use of muscles and joints. Intense focus on repetitive and specialized training of certain muscle groups can make them vulnerable to injuries such as stress fractures, sprains, strains, and tendinitis. Not only are these conditions painful, but they make the body more susceptible to other serious injuries.
Another common cause of sports-related injuries is trauma. This may be trauma from a particularly hard hit from another player, like in football, or being fouled and taking a fall on the basketball court. Any number of different factors can cause trauma but it is typically the result of some type of fall, collision, or being struck by an object. Students who have overused specific muscle groups or put intense strain on their joints and bones are more likely to suffer from a traumatic injury.
Common Sports-Related Injuries
Sports-related injuries shouldn’t be taken lightly. Coaches and parents tend to think that sprains and strains are common, almost inevitable, but the reality is that sports-related injures can be more than just minor aches and pains. It isn’t enough for a coach to say, “Put some ice on it and get back in the game.” Sports-related injuries must be taken seriously.
Severe and life-altering injuries can happen when a student is not properly supervised while practicing and playing in organized sports. About 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children are the result of recreational sports. Ignoring a child’s pain can even result in death. While not every injury is life-threatening, they can all pose a significant risk to a young person’s health and well-being. Some of the most common sports-related injuries among young athletes include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Broken bones
- Knee injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Ankle injuries
- Elbow injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Heart-related conditions
- Heat-related illnesses
Sports with the Highest Number of Student Injuries
It’s no surprise that impact-sports have the highest number of student-athlete injuries. Typically, the main culprits of sports-related injuries are football and hockey — two very intense and high-impact sports where bodies are constantly in motion and crashing into one another.
However, other sports are also gaining a reputation for causing serious injuries because they involve high-impact training and repetitive motions that can stress and weaken vulnerable joints, bones, and muscles. Any sport can result in an injury, but some sports pose more risks to student-athletes than others. The sports that tend to cause the most sports-related injuries for student-athletes include:
- Football — Some of the most common injuries in football include head and neck injuries, fractured bones, dislocations and knee injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and concussions.
- Hockey — Hockey players are at risk for head and dental injuries, dislocations, broken bones, especially collar bones, and concussions.
- Basketball — Dislocations and knee injuries are prominent in basketball, as well as facial and hand/wrist injuries.
- Baseball and Softball — Baseball and softball players tend to suffer the most from soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains, ligament and tendon damage, as well as shoulder injuries and elbow injuries.
- Soccer — Players commonly complain of knee and ankle injuries, muscle sprains and strains, concussions, and broken bones, especially in the feet.
- Cheerleading — Cheerleaders are susceptible to sprains and strains, dislocations of the shoulder and knee, broken bones, especially stress fractures, and concussions.
- Gymnastics — Gymnasts are at risk for muscle sprains and strains, broken bones like stress fractures and broken wrists, back injuries, knee injuries, shoulder injuries, tendon tears, and cartilage damage.
How Can a Coach be Negligent When it Comes to Sports Injuries?
Yes, sports injuries result from freak accidents. However, in our increasingly competitive world, the coaching staff of sporting teams is beginning to prioritize winning over the children’s health and safety playing the game. Highly competitive athletes may be vying for a chance at a college scholarship or a spot on a national team, but students are still minors who require the supervision and protection of experienced adults.
A coach who overlooks this duty to care for students under their direct supervision may be found negligent if a student is seriously injured on their watch. A negligent coach may be open to civil penalties under the law.
The drive to win isn’t just intense in coaches — it can be intense for students as well. A young athlete may be their own worst enemy, trying to convince the people around them that they should continue to play. The National Athletic Trainers Association found that at least 54 percent of student-athletes say they have played while injured. Young athletes are still growing and discovering their bodies, and this includes testing their limits. It’s the responsibility of the coaching staff and adult supervisors to recognize the warning signs of serious injuries and take measures that protect the student from further injuring themselves.
The big question for most parents is: What types of behaviors are considered negligent? In most situations, this means that a reasonable person of the same education and experience would have made another choice under the same circumstances. Some of the most common actions that may result in a coach being liable for sports-related injury include:
- Allowing an injured player to continue playing
- Allowing an unfit player to continue playing without proper medical evaluation
- Allowing unauthorized individuals to take on coaching duties
- Failing to provide the proper training
- Failing to provide proper supervision
- Moving an injured athlete without due caution
While there is a wide range of situations where a negligent coach may be liable for a sports-related injury, a successful case must prove the following:
- The coach owed the athlete a duty of care
- The coach breached that duty of care and an injury was the result
- The breach of care resulted in damages to the student
Contact an Experienced Kentucky Sports Injury Attorney Today
Young athletes are just beginning to discover their potential. It only takes one encounter with a negligent coach to cause irreparable harm to a child athlete. This harm can result in significant medical bills and a lifetime of pain and suffering, all for the sake of a game.
If you know a young athlete who suffered negligent coaching, you may be entitled to compensation for the athlete’s medical expenses. Contact the experienced Kentucky sports injury team at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP to get more information on your potential case. Coaches are responsible for the well-being of their athletes. Neglecting this responsibility can lead to serious injuries and medical complications. Get the help and compensation you need today. Call Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP at (859) 550-2900 to schedule your free case evaluation.