Every year, about 30 million children and youths participate in organized sports. About 3.5 million of these individuals are injured during this activity. These injuries just count the ones that are serious enough for the player to miss at least one game. About half of these injuries are preventable overuse injuries. So, negligence causes about half of these wounds as well.
Head injuries are a major concern. Researchers are just now beginning to understand that some sports, such as tackle football, are basically inherently dangerous. It does not matter what equipment the players wear or do not wear. Some form of brain injury is almost inevitable, given the nature of the sport. Other activities, such as soccer, are not much safer. Blows to the head are not as common, but head injury preventative measures are almost nonexistent.
Establishing Liability in a Rockford Sports Injury Case
In Illinois, negligence is essentially a lack of ordinary care. Drivers are negligent if they do not drive defensively or obey “the rules of the road.” A similar analysis applies to coaches, trainers, sponsors, and other team officials:
- Duty: Most of these individuals have a duty of reasonable care. They must be aware of the risk of injury and do what they can to prevent such incidents.
- Breach: A win-at-all-costs mentality is arguably a breach of duty. Breach is a fact question that the jury must resolve.
- Cause-in-Fact: This element is sometimes called but-for causation, as in the victim’s damages would not have occurred “but for” the tortfeasor’s (negligent actor’s) conduct or misconduct.
- Proximate Cause: The injury must not only be a direct consequence of the action or inaction. It must also be a foreseeable consequence. A medical error during injury treatment is not a foreseeable consequence of sports negligence.
- Damages: The victim must suffer an actual injury. It does not need to be significant; any injury will do.
Third party liability often applies in these cases, because of Illinois’ respondeat superior rule. According to this doctrine, an employer is legally responsible for the negligent acts of an employee. So, if a child is injured at a school sports event, the school district is liable for damages.
Common Defenses in Rockford School Sports Injury Cases
In cases like these, the assumption of the risk defense is very common. Like most other defenses, defense attorneys use this doctrine to shift blame from the tortfeasor onto the victim. The assumption of the risk defense has two basic prongs:
- Voluntary Assumption: This element is usually present in Rockford school sports injury cases. Occasionally, however, the liability waivers which the school forces parents to sign are not “voluntary.” Instead, they are take-it-or-leave-it contracts of adhesion.
- Known Risk: Many risks are unknown. That label certainly applies to off-the-field injuries, such as a parking lot fight after the game. This designation also applies to many long-term head injuries. Typically, the parents do not fully understand the risk and school officials are not very diligent about explaining these risks.
In Rockford, contributory negligence is another common defense in these cases. But instead of excusing liability, contributory negligence usually just reduces the amount of damages that the victim/plaintiff receives. However, the legal principle involved is essentially the same.
Damages in a sports injury negligence case usually include compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Contact Aggressive Attorneys
Short and long-term sports injuries are equally dangerous. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. Home and hospital visits are available.