If a child is injured during a softball game or another youth sports event, a court may still find the venue or organizer of the sport liable, effectively ignoring a liability waiver. Youth sports are becoming increasingly competitive, and the risk of injury is subsequently increasing along with healthcare expenses and liability concerns.
A recent Safe Kids Worldwide report discovered how sports injuries are affecting youth. The report found that in 2013, 1.24 million children wound up in the emergency room specifically for sports injuries. The report conducted a survey of 1,000 youth athletes in grades seven through ten, along with 1,000 parents and 1,000 coaches.
The Most Common Types of Injuries in Youth Sports
The Safe Kids Worldwide report also determined that children ages 13 to 15 sustained the most injuries, 90 percent of whom stated that the injuries were from sports. A majority of those injuries involved sprains and strains, dehydration, fractured or broken bones, and concussions and other head injuries.
Some of the most common areas of the body that are vulnerable to these and other types of injuries in youth sports include:
Some sports in which injuries often occur include basketball, softball, baseball, hockey, football, soccer, and cheerleading.
The Risk of Injury and Liability Waivers
A majority of sports injuries, including those among youth athletes, are entirely accidental without any liable party. The risk of injury in any sport is always present, which can make it difficult or impossible to determine liability.
For most sports, “assumption of risk” applies, which means that all parties involved are aware of the potential for injury at any point while engaging in a sport. This assumption of risk applies to any location where sports are taking place, whether on public or private property.
In circumstances involving assumption of risk, there are no grounds for liability considering the fact that no one is at fault.
When It’s Not Possible to Enforce Liability Waivers
The owner of the property where a sporting event is to take place may require all participants or their parents to sign a waiver that prevents the owner from being liable in the event of an injury. The waiver may be enforceable if the injuries resulted from an accident and nobody was at fault, but if the property owner practiced any negligence that resulted in an injury, a waiver may not be valid.
In some instances involving injuries that go beyond assumption of risk, coaches, personal trainers, and others may be held liable for any injuries sustained. Sometimes parties might practice negligence or carelessness that leads to injuries, or faulty equipment might have caused an injury. Some cases may even involve malicious behavior that resulted in intentional injuries.
Certain evidence can prove that negligence, inadequate protective equipment, and other factors caused an injury that falls outside of the ordinary risk associated with sports injuries. If a parent suspects that any injuries resulted from these factors, it may be possible to build personal injury cases and file claims even if the parent signed a liability waiver. It’s best to seek legal advice following medical treatment if a child sustains a sports injury and negligence or malicious intent may be the cause.