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Are Schools Legally Responsible for Sports Related Injuries?

By Kevin Kukor on September 20, 2016 // Leave a Comment

MP_Sports_Injury_blog.jpeg.jpgNow that the school year is in full swing, your children have likely had some exposure to athletics. Whether they are already on a sports team or thinking about signing up for try-outs, there are many options for young athletes to get involved in sports.

But how safe are school sports and if your child is injured, what legal advice should parents know?


As Milwaukee personal injury lawyers, the short answer is, yes, there are many legal considerations you should know about. Here is a snapshot of why injuries in school sports should be taken seriously and more importantly, what you should do if your child is injured during school sanctioned athletics.

Why Should Parents Be Concerned About School Sports?

 According to Safe Kids Worldwide

  • More than 2.6 million children ages 19 and under are seen in emergency departments for injuries related to sports and recreation each year
  • 60 million children ages 6 to 18 participate in organized athletics.
  • One in three children who play a team sport is injured seriously enough to miss practice or games.
  • About 33% of parents don't take the same safety precautions during their child’s practice as they do for a game.
  • 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice rather than games.

Inherent Risks of Playing School Sports

As with many activities, the law assumes that individual participants are aware of the inherent risks associated with participation. In many cases, general injuries can and do occur during organized sports and thus, the majority of injury cases are difficult to bring to suit because they do involve inherent risk.

Schools Are Not Exempt From All Responsibility

While is it difficult to file a lawsuit against a school for a general injury during participation in athletics, if the school was negligent in some manner, there may be legal grounds for a lawsuit. For example: 

  • If a school is aware of a dangerous piece of equipment, such as a sharp or broken football upright or soccer goal, and a student is injured as a result of contact with the equipment.
  • If the school fails to repair a known hazard and someone is injured.

Participants must assume inherent risks of participation, but student-athletes do not assume risks that are not inherent to the sport. 

When You May Consider A Lawsuit Against a School

 A personal injury lawsuit stems from an act of negligence that played a part in causing an accident or injury. When it comes to negligence for school athletics, it could be the school, and organization, an individual or multiply parties that acted in negligence, defined below.

MP_Negligence_Quote_blog.jpg

 Negligence could take the form of any of the following scenarios:

  • Inadequate supervision
  • Insufficient or poor on-site emergency medical care
  • Improper, faulty or unsafe equipment
  • Inadequate or incorrect safety protocols
  • Knowingly hazardous or improperly maintained facilities

The Problem with Suing a Public School for A Sports Injury 

If your child is injured at a public school or government run recreation program, the rules are completely different. Not only is proving negligence a prerequisite to recovering, but you must also show:

  • That the government employee who was negligent violated a clear cut rule which prescribed exactly what he or she was supposed to do.
  • Or that the danger was very clear cut and known to the government official, and they proceeded anyways.

If you pass that hurdle, you face a damage cap of only $50,000, for any injury, no matter how serious the injury. Successful claims against government entities are rare, but they do happen.

It is very unlikely that as a parent you’ll have to worry about serious injuries during school athletics, I hope the information above shed some light on safety and legal considerations you should be aware of. Questions? As always, please let us know in the comments!

Submit a Free Case Evaluation Now

If you are still looking for the right lawyer for you, consider filling out a free case evaluation and talking with a Milwaukee personal injury lawyer today. You’ll see the difference when you have the opportunity to talk directly with an expert.

At Murphy & Prachthauser we are personal injury attorneys in Milwaukee who practice the law the way it should be practiced – motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people.

If you have a case you would like to speak to a personal injury lawyer about, please contact us to schedule a free case evaluation and get experienced attorneys working on your behalf.

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