What Happens if My Child Suffers a Sports-Related Injury?
For many of us, thinking of childhood evokes wonderful memories. With hardly a care in the world, we had school friends, long, carefree summers, and a never-ending array of adventures. Now, as parents, we strive to make life even better for our children. In addition to education, many parents focus on extracurricular activities that are fun and broaden a child’s horizons.
Of course, sports continue to draw the interests of children in Oregon and across the United States. Most of the time, the experiences are fun and entertaining, and may even lead to life-changing opportunities. But once in a while, children suffer serious injuries.
That’s probably something most parents haven’t thought about, and such injuries can trigger a number of questions. In this article, we’ll discuss some of those issues.
Injuries May Be More Common than You Think
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) report that children between the ages of 5 and 14 account for approximately 3.2 million yearly emergency room visits for injuries arising from sports and recreational activities. Activities defined as purely sports-related account for 775,000 of these visits. Sports-related injuries are the number one cause of emergency room visits for children between the ages of 12 and 17.
According to Brainline, a national service that provides information and assistance to those affected by brain injury, 3.8 million of the concussions that occur in the United States every year are related to competitive sports and other recreational activities.
These sports-related and other recreational concussions result in many emergency room visits related to traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) for children and for teenagers. In fact, children and teenagers account for about 70 percent of all sports-related and recreational concussion visits to hospital emergency rooms.
Who Is Most at Danger?
Not surprisingly, sports with greater levels of contact create more risk. Thus, a child playing football is probably more likely to be injured than a child engaged in competitive swimming. Boys are more likely to be injured than girls, although both genders suffer many injuries. The CDC states that football, baseball, basketball, and soccer account for approximately 80 percent of emergency room visits for children between 5 and 14.
The CDC notes that children assess risks with less proficiency, have less coordination, and react more slowly. These characteristics all contribute to a higher injury rate.
Steps to Prevent Injuries
Many sports-related injuries suffered by children can be prevented. The CDC provides a helpful list of important prevention tips, including the following:
- Children should have a physical examination before participating in sports.
- Seek sports leagues with experienced coaches. These coaches understand the rules and proper techniques to use, which can help prevent injuries
- Make sure playing fields are safe and free from hazards.
- Always wear and use recommended equipment. Make sure you are using/wearing it properly.
Who Is Liable for a Child’s Sports-Related Injury?
To answer this question, we must remember that injuries can arise in many ways, which affects the determination of liability. When people participate in sports, they “assume” a certain amount of risk, so long as the risk is of the type normally associated with the sport. For example, if a soccer player runs down the field and turns her ankle due to the fault of no one else, no one would be liable.
On the other hand, society demands that everyone act reasonably and refrain from intentionally harming others. For example, what if a child is injured because a sports league provided faulty protective equipment? Or what if a coach put a child back in a game too soon after he had suffered a concussion? In some cases, players intentionally harm other players by behaviors outside the rules of the sport.
A child’s injuries can also be exacerbated if the child is not handled correctly after receiving an injury. Similarly, emergency and medical professionals may make errors in diagnosing or treating the injured child.
In the end, the circumstances surrounding an injury must be carefully evaluated to determine if a third party has liability to the parents for the child’s injury. If someone has acted negligently and caused the child’s injury (or made it worse), then they may be liable for the child’s personal injuries.
Call with Questions
If your child has suffered a sports-related injury, you may not be sure what rights you have. Please feel free to call the experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield. We will be happy to answer your questions. We are dedicated to making Oregon safer for children and adults by holding negligent actors responsible for their actions.