In recent years, the discussion surrounding organized sports and their inherent risks has reached new levels of intensity, especially when it comes to the topic of concussions and brain injuries.
Some would argue that concussions are no more prevalent today than they were 10 or 20 years ago, and our understanding and education has simply brought the issue to the forefront. Indeed, awareness campaigns, major feature films like Concussion, starring Will Smith, and the number of high-profile athletes retiring due to concussion concerns have made parents of school-aged children pause when considering allowing their children to play organized sports for club leagues or schools.
Ultimately, the decision is up to the parents, and they may find it encouraging that some doctors believe that the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle are greater than those of playing sports, and encouraging your children to participate in activities like sports are generally beneficial.
Schools’ Duty to Protect the Health of Student-Athletes
As parents, however, we do have a reasonable expectation that our children will be properly coached, educated, and cared for when they take the field under the banner of their middle school, high school, or college. If they suffer injuries due to lack of awareness or supervision by the coaches, parents or students may want to consider taking legal action.
But what exactly can we expect from our school-sponsored sports programs? It is reasonable to expect that coaches at the middle school, high school, and college level all consider and apply the following:
- Proper Education and Supervision – Coaches at all levels should teach players about the symptoms of concussions and discourage players from “toughing it out” or “playing through the pain,” especially when it comes to possible brain injuries. Doctors say that a second concussion that occurs when a brain injury is still trying to heal can lead to permanent brain damage, so it is essential that coaches supervise their players and educate them on recognizing the signs of a concussion in order to seek and receive proper treatment.
- Advanced Evaluation – For a long time, coaches at the high school and middle school levels were not expected to have as advanced knowledge as those at the professional and collegiate levels, especially when it came to evaluation of potential concussions. Now, with the advanced studies and awareness campaigns that have been promoted at all levels, it is reasonable for us to expect that those who coach our children at any level have the proper skills to identify concussions in practice and games and immediately help get players the medical assistance they need.
- Adoption of Safety Guidelines – The NCAA was recently forced through a class-action lawsuit to adopt safety guidelines for the management of concussions after it was charged with ignoring the problem of concussions and breached its duty to protect them. Schools should work proactively to implement the proper safety guidelines to protect their student-athletes, or else they may face negligence lawsuits if they did not exercise “reasonable care.”
While safety guidelines and laws are only starting to catch up with sports programs at the collegiate, high school, and middle school level, schools risk personal injury lawsuits if they fail to properly protect their players from preventable injuries like concussions. As parents, we have a right to expect our children to be properly coached, educated, and supervised when out on the field, no matter what level of play they are participating in.
Get Help From an Experienced North Carolina and South Carolina Injury Lawyer
If your child is injured while participating in school sports in Western North Carolina or Upstate South Carolina – including in Asheville, Waynesville, Franklin, Greenville, or Spartanburg – the experienced injury lawyers at Grimes Teich Anderson, LLP are here to help you. We can identify all responsible parties and assist you in recovering compensation to which you and your child may be entitled to for the expenses your family incurs and your child’s pain and suffering. Contact our firm by telephone or complete our online form for assistance today.