As healthy and enjoyable as athletic activity is, there is always the risk of injury when engaging in a sport. Although everyone expects the usual minor cuts and bruises, at times serious injuries occur during sports activities. When another individual or entity, such as a school or private gym, is responsible for your injury, you have legal recourse.
By contacting a competent personal injury firm, like Advocate Law Firm, that handles sports injuries, you can be assured of the best possibility of receiving the compensation you deserve. Apart from keeping you “on the bench” for a while, a sports injury may result in substantial medical and rehabilitation costs, time away from school or gainful employment, and even permanent disability. While you recover, our experienced attorneys will vigorously fight for your rights.
When Is Someone Else Responsible for Your Injury
Many sports injuries occur because the injured party has not warmed up properly, has over-exerted him or herself, or has just moved awkwardly or slipped. There are occasions, however, when responsibility for the injury rests on the shoulders of another person or supervising facility. These include:
Injuries Caused by Dangerous Physical Conditions
When a student is in school, school officials are responsible for the youngster’s safety to the degree that they are expected to foresee dangerous conditions and take action to prevent injuries. They are required, for example, to examine and remove hazards, such as unsafe playground equipment and defective sports devices, as well as to keep students away from ice-covered fields and slippery gym floors.
Similarly, gyms in which adults exercise are responsible to keep their facilities sanitary and safe. If a member’s injury can be tied to a wet or waxed floor, a broken treadmill, or a defective stationary bicycle, the facility can be held accountable for the injury.
Injuries Caused by Others
Children are naturally rambunctious and it is up to those who supervise them — teachers, monitors, crossing guards, bus drivers, counselors, coaches — to keep their behavior in check. This is especially true if a particular child is known to be dangerously aggressive. It goes without saying that if a supervisory adult injures a student deliberately, he or she, and the facility share the blame for the incident.
Similar rules may apply at a gym to which adults belong. Although adults are generally more in control of themselves than children, if the gym is aware that a member has been observed being aggressive or reported as being disturbing to others, the facility may have to defend itself against charges if that member injures someone at their facility. Again, such legal actions depend upon whether a judge or jury can be convinced that the incident was “foreseeable.”
Schools, gyms, golf courses and other sports facilities can be held responsible if someone is hurt on their grounds, but only under certain circumstances. In order for them to be charged with “premises liability” the following three criteria have to be met:
- The accused person or entity must be in control of the premises.
- The person injured must be expected to be on the property at the time of the injury.
- The accused must have been negligent, that is, aware of the dangerous condition and failed to remedy it.
What this means is that there are exceptions to premises liability. For example, if a child goes to the schoolyard to play ball over the weekend, when supervision is not expected or required, and sustains an injury, the school is not typically considered culpable. In the same vein, if an individual trespasses onto a golf course after it is closed for the night, it is unlikely that the course will be held responsible if he or she trips over a branch that was scheduled to be removed in the morning.
Assumed Risk in Athletics
When students or amateur athletes engage in sports activity, the government assumes that they understand that normal risks are involved. Thus, if a child on a high school football team tears a tendon during practice, or a weekend warrior twists an ankle during a pick-up basketball game at the gym, the facilities are not held responsible since there is an “assumption of risk” when you engage in sports activities.
Nonetheless, there are exceptions. If you are punched during a friendly game of soccer by a player on the opposing team, or if a defective bowling ball fractures your finger, it is quite possible to hold the offender or the equipment manufacturer responsible for your injury.
Because of the complexities of the law surrounding sports injuries, and because in some cases laws may vary from state to state, it is essential that you consult with a competent attorney who knows the local and federal laws and is prepared to fight vigorously for you. At Advocate Law Firm, we are well aware that there may be long-term repercussions after a sports injury. We have your best interests at heart and are dedicated to getting you the maximum compensation you deserve.