Sports are a fun way for Americans of all ages to be active and stay in shape. But as with any physical activity, there are risks. Millions of athletes, from children to professional adults, suffer serious sports-related injuries each year. In some cases, the injuries can be permanently disabling or even fatal. If you or a loved one have suffered a sports injury, you could be faced with steep medical bills, lost time from work, and life-changing consequences.
When injuries result from someone’s negligence, the responsible party must be held accountable. That’s where Cooper Schall & Levy come in. Our personal injury attorneys will investigate your accident and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
What Are The Most Common Sports Injuries?
Athletes of all ages can be susceptible to sports injuries. These are some of the most common ones:
- Brain damage
- Muscle strains and sprained joints
- Broken bones
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Cuts and bruises
- Dehydration and heat exhaustion
Some injuries require minimal medical attention. More serious injuries can result in a trip to the emergency room, followed by hospitalization, rehabilitative therapy, and ongoing treatment. In the worst cases, the accident victim can die from his or her injuries.
Why Does Sports Injury Occur?
Sports are inherently active, at times even violent, and that means many injuries simply cannot be avoided. If you’re playing football, for example, you’re bound to suffer a pulled muscle or concussion at some point. In many cases, however, negligence on the part of a sports team, coach, athletic facility, or other party is to blame for the injuries.
Some examples of negligence include:
- Allowing or encouraging conduct that is not permitted by the rules of the sport
- Pushing an athlete past his or her physical limitations
- Hazards on the field, track, or other area where the sport takes place
- Defects with training, exercise, or safety equipment
- Failure to remove an injured player from the game and/or seek medical attention
- Injuries from third parties, such as members of the crowd
- Assault between coaches and athletes or among team members
These and many other instances of negligence are preventable. When teams, coaches, and other parties fail to take reasonable steps to protect athlete safety, players, participants, and even spectators can get hurt.
Who Can Be Held Liable For Sports Injuries?
This is a complicated question because it involves many factors such as where the injury occurred and who was responsible.
Many sports activities take place with private organizations such as gyms, athletic clubs, and private schools. Holding these parties liable is relatively straightforward. The issue is much more complicated when public entities, such as public schools, are involved. Governmental units in Pennsylvania (including public schools and public parks) enjoy what is called sovereign immunity. This doctrine shields the government from liability for sports-related injuries in most cases. There are some exceptions, however, and you should let your attorney know where (and under whose authority) the accident happened.
Assuming you can hold the responsible party liable, you must establish negligence or willful misconduct. Negligence means the responsible party owed you some duty (e.g., to provide a safe field or safe training equipment), which was breached, and which therefore resulted in physical injury.
An example of willful misconduct would be a coach deliberately striking a player and causing him to be hurt.
What If I Signed A Waiver?
Waivers are intended to protect the sports team or other party from liability for injuries, but they are not absolute protections. The waiver must be legally enforceable, and that depends on several factors. Recovery for truly accidental injuries, or those which could not reasonably have been avoided, will in most cases be excluded by the waiver.
The language in the waiver must be clear and outline potential risks. Ordinary negligent behavior can be waived, but intentional or willful behavior usually cannot. If the injury is too unusual to have been foreseen by either party, it’s likely a court will invalidate the waiver. A court must also consider whether the individual signing the waiver had a chance to review and understand it.
It also depends on whether the sports injury victim is an adult or a child. Waivers that adults sign are usually enforceable, absent any indication of fraud, mistake, or duress. The same is not true for children. Even where a parent signs on behalf of a child, the parent cannot release the child’s potential claims against those responsible for the injuries.
What Do I Do After A Sports Injury?
First, seek medical attention, even for seemingly minor injuries. Although this may seem obvious, there are two important reasons for taking this step. First, it will help your physician identify any underlying or more serious problems. These will need to be identified and treated early so that you have a record of your injuries. Which leads to the second reason: to begin documenting your medical conditions. When the time comes to seek compensation, you will need to show all of your expenses as well as anything related to your injuries and treatment.
Next, gather all records pertaining to the sports team or another party (or parties) who may be liable. Find any waivers, receipts, contracts, membership rosters, and anything else evidencing your participation in the sporting activity that led to your injuries.
Finally, to the extent you can, obtain information from witnesses and record details about what happened. Get names, phone numbers, email addresses, and so forth. Write down how, when, and where the injury occurred. The more detail, the better.
Contact A Philadelphia Sports Injury Attorney
If negligence or wrongful misconduct is to blame for your injuries, you deserve compensation. The responsible party may attempt to deny liability or refuse to cooperate. You need the attorneys of Cooper Schall & Levy. We are experienced in all types of personal injury cases, and we will fight for your legal rights. Contact us today to get started on your case.