Every school year, millions of students participate in school sports. Participating in school sports has grown from an estimate 4 million students playing a sport in the early 1970's to about 7.7 million in 2011. Unfortunately school principals, athletic directors and coaches cannot guarantee that students will remain accident free while participating in any sport. In today's litigious world, schools, and staff can be subject to a lawsuit.
Over the past few decades, more tort cases have been filed. A tort concerns civil wrongs and address the duty, breach and injury sustained to one individual as a result of another's conduct. The premise is that a person who is injured could be ...view middle of the document...
By signing the wavier, the athlete agrees to relieve the school of any liability and assumes the risk related to that sport
Although schools are normally protected from liability, a student injured while playing school sports may allege a number of negligence claims against the coach: (1) failure to teach the player how to safely play the sport; (2) failure to warn the player of the possible risk of injury; and (3) failure to provide protective equipment.
When determining negligence liability against a coach when a player has suffered an injury, the question is did the coach have a duty to protect the athlete from the injury suffered? Coaches have a duty to teach their players the basic fundamental of the sport, the rules of the game, and techniques to avoid injury. Therefore, coaches may be found liable to their athletes if they either neglect to provide instruction or if they only provide minimal to no instruction to the players.
In Woodson v. Irvington Board of Education, the plaintiff, a football player, alleged negligence on behalf of the coaches caused him to suffer a severe neck injury while tackling another player during practice. He claimed the coach did not provide him with the proper instruction on how to tackle safely. The jury found the coaches negligent and awarded the plaintiff $6.5 million because there had only been one practice prior to the injury and he had not been taught how to keep his head up while making a tackle nor had he been told the importance of doing so.
In contrast, in Kahn v. East Side Union High-School District, the plaintiff, a junior varsity swimmer, alleged that the coach required her to dive in shallow water during a swim meet after receiving very little to no diving instruction. During the dive, she broke her neck when she hit her head on the bottom of the pool. The California Supreme Court held that although the coach did not show concern for the safety of the plaintiff, the coach did not intentionally injure the plaintiff.
Most people understand that there are potential dangers in any sport. However, many coaches and school officials are warning athletes of the possible dangers that exist so they will not be held liable for injuries suffered to their athletes. In Hammond V. Carroll County, a female junior made the varsity football team. During the first practice scrimmage she was tackled and received several internal injuries. She was hospitalized for a while and the doctors had to remove part of her pancreas due to a ruptured spleen. The plaintiff sued the school board claiming she was not warned of how severe injuries may be if she participates in...