With nearly 30 million children and adolescents playing organized sports across the country, it’s not surprising that more than 5.5 million children and adolescents are injured each year. Here on Long Island, we have enormously popular PAL leagues, school teams, CYO teams, Long Island Junior Soccer teams, Long Island Lacrosse League teams, Little League and more.
So what are your legal rights if your child is injured while playing in one of these organizations?
For most injuries, it is expected that participants know (and usually sign forms prior to playing for the team) that there are inherent risks to playing sports that the player takes on. Recently, many organizations have added specific documentation to inform players of the risks of concussions, and especially common injury seen in soccer, gymnastics, cheerleading, football, wrestling and other sports. But there are instances when you can hold an organization responsible for injuries.
So When Do You Have a Good Case against a Sports Organization?
There are three circumstances where you would have a good case against a club, team, owner or institution’s sport team.
- An injury that occurs due to a risk a player did not reasonably know about. This was highlighted in a recent case (Weinberger v. Solomon Schechter School) where a 14-year-old softball pitcher was injured during a “rapid fire” drill organized by her coach. For this particular drill, the girl was standing six feet closer to the batter than a pitcher normally would, and her protective gear was not properly placed on her. It fell off during the drill, but the coach allowed the drill to continue with her gear on the ground. The court found that the decreased pitching distance and faulty gear enhanced risks that the player did not assume.
- It could also be argued in the above case, that the girl felt compelled play, because she was specifically instructed by her coach to pitch at the closer distance without her gear. This is known as inherent compulsion, in which plaintiffs argue that they were essentially forced to assume certain risks.
- The third instance where a player might have a strong case is when a sports organization either knows about a risk or is actually responsible for that risk. Examples would be an unkempt field filled with holes and ditches that has already caused several broken or sprained ankles; or a soccer goal that is not properly set up and falls during a game.
Was your child or someone else in your family recently injured playing on a sports team?
Contact us for a free consultation and we can discuss your specific case and let you know your legal options and what to expect. There is no charge or obligation, and you pay no fees until we get you get a settlement or court victory.
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