Most people understand that participating in sports, especially contact sports like football and hockey, can lead to injury. Bumps and bruises are part of the game. But serious injuries such as broken bones, head injuries and heat stroke, should prompt questions, especially in organized youth sports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says more than 2.6 million children up to age 19 are treated in emergency rooms each year for sports and recreation injuries. The New York Department of Health says every year about 4,000 New York children ages 19 and younger are treated at hospitals for sports-related concussions.
Most school-age children who participate in organized sports in New York do so under the sponsorship and supervision of their school, a local civic league or a private organization, such as the YMCA.
When a child suffers a serious injury in sports play or practice while under adult supervision in the Long Island area, it is prudent to speak to a child sports injury lawyer at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, in Long Island. Adults in coaching and other instructional roles have a legal obligation to ensure adequate protections are in place to keep children from undue harm. If supervisors of your child’s sports activities were negligent, we may be able to help you recover the costs of your child’s medical care, compensation for your and your child’s pain and suffering, and more. Stepping forward may also prevent other children from suffering similar injuries.
Common Sports Injuries and Injury Rates
The Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City says statistics indicate a rising incidence of sports injuries among youth in the United States, bringing young people to emergency rooms for treatment of sports and recreation-related injuries.
Among the most common sports injuries among children and youths are:
- Sprains and strains
- Swollen and pulled muscles
- Tendonitis, including Achilles tendon injuries
- Pain along the shin bone
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Knee injuries
- Fractures, including stress fractures
- Elbow pain known as “little league elbow”
Stanford Children’s Hospital in California says sports and recreational activities contribute to approximately 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children. A concussion, which is typically caused by a blow or series of blows to the head, is a mild brain injury. While death from a sports injury is rare, the leading cause of sports-related fatalities is a brain injury.
The highest rates of injury occur in sports that involve contact and collisions. Most injuries related to organized sports (62 percent) occur during practice.
The National Safety Council lists the sports and recreational activities that caused injuries requiring emergency room visits in 2018. The recreational activities are ranked from most injuries to fewest:
- Exercising with exercise equipment
- Playground equipment use
- ATVs, mopeds, minibikes
- Swimming, swimming pool activity
- Baseball, softball
Another important consideration for children involved in sports is heat-related illness. Children sweat less than adults and reach a higher core body temperature before they begin sweating. Therefore, children should be closely monitored when playing or practicing in hot weather. They must be encouraged to drink water to maintain proper hydration.
Heat injuries are dangerous and potentially fatal, including:
- Dehydration – water depletion
- Heat exhaustion – water and salt depletion
- Heatstroke – a core body temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures.
Heatstroke is a medical emergency and may include such symptoms as lack of sweating despite the heat, confusion, disorientation or staggering; seizure; or fainting.
Can I Claim Compensation for A Sports Injury?
Athletes of any age or sport assume a risk of injury. However, legal responsibility for that risk is different for children than it is for adults. The law treats children differently when it considers responsibility for their actions, including actions that may have caused them injury.
In many cases, an adult who has assumed a formal or informal role of supervising children may be held liable for their safety, including in cases of significant sports and recreation injury. If an adult in charge of a child neglected his or her general duties for ensuring that child’s safety and the child was injured, that adult and/or their employer may be held responsible.
In sports and recreation, an adult serving as coach, trainer, instructor or in any responsible supervisory role may be held responsible for ensuring child and youth athletes:
- Have and know how to use proper protective gear
- Understand and follow rules of the game, particularly those regarding physical contact with other players
- Are reasonably fit and practiced at the sport or activity prior to competition or intense practice
- Compete against players of similar size, weight, age and capability
- Take scheduled breaks from sports activity in hot weather and remain hydrated
- Are not pushed beyond reasonable limits during practice and games
- Are not physically disciplined for infractions or performance lapses nor overly disciplined verbally
- Are discouraged from improper conduct, including using too much physical force against other players
- Are removed from participation and are properly examined and treated if an injury occurs.
Who Is Liable for Injuries in Youth Sports?
If a child or youth athlete has been seriously injured while under supervision of an adult who is not their parent, that adult and/or the organization that employs him or her may be held liable for an injury caused by their negligence. There may be valid cause for a legal claim if those who supervised the injured child’s play disregarded safety policies and procedures, failed to properly equip or instruct the child, or neglected signs of injury and failed to obtain proper care for the injured athlete.
In most cases, public school teachers, coaches, principals and other administrators in New York cannot be held individually liable for a child’s injury suffered during regular sports activities sponsored by the school. But an educator or staff member might be individually liable for wanton, heinous or malicious acts, such as assault committed against a student or the purposeful neglect of assigned duties that led to an injury, such as a heat-related injury.
School districts and other governmental agencies in New York, such as a municipality that administers a local youth sports league, have sovereign immunity from many legal claims. There are certain requirements and strict, short deadlines for filing a Notice of Claim, which may lead to further legal action.
Private organizations, such as private schools, a YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, gymnastics school, etc., do not have such protection.
Further, if a child’s injury was caused by faulty sports equipment or dangerous conditions on a playing field or in a gymnasium, there may be grounds for a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective equipment or a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner.
How Do I Sue Over My Child’s Sports Injury?
A child sports injury lawyer from the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP can help you evaluate your claim and if appropriate seek full compensation if some individual’s or organizations’ negligence allowed your child to suffer a preventable sports injury.
As Long Island youth sports injury attorneys, we will obtain the official reports filed by schools, civic leagues or other organizations when a child has been injured. When investigating a sports injury, there are multiple potential sources of evidence, ranging from eyewitness accounts to video from security cameras or cell phones.
We also obtain medical records and consult medical professionals to ensure we understand the nature and seriousness of your child’s injury.
In addition to determining who should be held liable for your child’s injury, we calculate the total amount of money the accident has cost you and your family. This includes medical expenses and losses from parents’ time away from work, as well as pain and suffering.
Our team works quickly to meet “Notice of Claim” deadlines that school systems and other governmental entities have. Our attorneys negotiate aggressively when insurers try to put forward inadequate settlement payments.
We conduct thorough investigations to compile and present persuasive cases in negotiations with insurers. When insurance companies refuse to offer just settlements that are warranted by the facts of a case, we are prepared to fight for justice on our clients’ behalf in a New York court.
Get Help from a Long Island Sports Injury Lawyer
If your child has been injured while playing organized sports or during physical education or other supervised recreation, protect your family’s rights to restitution for your medical expenses and other losses.
Meet with a child and youth sports injury attorney from the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe before signing anything offered by an insurance company for a sports injury. We can work to recover full and fair compensation for your child’s injury and the impact it has had on your family.
Contact us today to schedule a free legal consultation and claim evaluation. We can meet with you at your home, workplace or in the hospital if you prefer.
For a free legal consultation with a sports and recreation injuries lawyer serving Long Island, call 516-358-6900