Sports injuries are injuries that are sustained by individuals who are participating in a sporting event. Sports injuries can generally be categorized as caused by a traumatic impact or as caused by the overuse of a certain body part.
An amateur sport is an organized sport that usually involves low to medium-skill level participants. These sports are often sponsored or funded by organizations.
In some instances, these types of sports involve compensation between the participants. Amateur sports are often team sports, such as:
- Hockey; and
These types of sports may also involve competitive individual sports, such as karate or boxing. A large portion of sports injuries and related sports injury claims involve amateur sports injuries.
What are Some Examples of Sports Injuries?
The majority of sports injury claims involve a traumatic injury instead of an injury caused by overuse. This is because a participant cannot expect to hold another individual liable for injuries due to overexertion.
If, however, a participant’s participation in a sport causes injury, it may form the basis of a civil lawsuit. Sports law governs legal issues in both amateur and professional sports.
These types of claims often overlap with:
- Labor law;
- Contract law;
- Antitrust law; and
- Tort law.
Examples of some of the most common sports injuries that may occur include, but are not limited to:
- Broken bones;
- Head injuries;
- Hip flexor strains;
- Hamstring strains;
- ACL strains or tears;
- Pulled muscles, especially groin pulls;
- Shin splints;
- Tennis or golf elbow, which is caused by the overuse of forearm tendons; or
- Shoulder and knee injuries.
What is the Assumption of Risk Doctrine?
The legal doctrine of assumption of the risk provides that a participant who voluntarily participates in a sporting activity will not be able to hold others liable for their injuries if those injuries occur during the game or while participating in the sport.
As previously noted, a co-participant cannot be held liable for an injury because, when the injured party decided to participate, they voluntarily assumed the risk that other participants may injure them.
Assumption of the risk doctrine is commonly cited as a defense in personal injury and negligence lawsuits. If a plaintiff has assumed the risk, they will not be permitted to recover damages for the harm that results from a defendant’s conduct.
This applies even if a defendant was negligent or reckless and clearly caused the plaintiff’s injuries. To show the plaintiff assumed the rights, the defendant must show that the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the risk that was involved in the conduct or the activity.
Concerning a sports injury lawsuit, a defendant will be required to show that the injured party knew about the potential injuries associated with the sport in which they were participating. In addition, the defendant must prove that the plaintiff voluntarily accepted the risk.
This may be accomplished through an agreement, for example, a consent waiver, or be implied by words and conduct. Typically, it is also necessary to prove that the danger was obvious or that the nature of the conduct was inherently dangerous.
What are Some Exceptions to Assumption of Risk?
Although an individual may assault the risk of an injury when participating in a sport, there are certain exclusions to the assumption of the risk doctrine. How these exclusions may be applied will depend on the nature of the sport.
Exclusions to the assumption of the risk doctrine include:
- Negligence standard: If a player’s negligence causes injury to another player, they may be held liable for damages. Asserting negligence requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant breached the duty of care they owed to the plaintiff and that this breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury;
- An example of this would be if a player failed to abide by the safety rules of the game;
- Wanton or willful conduct standard: This exception provides that a defendant is liable only if their conduct was wanton or willful. This means that the defendant acted intentionally in causing the plaintiff’s injury and that they meant for their actions to result in the injury of another player;
- The level of force used typically exceeds the normal force exerted in the contact sport. For example, if a player engages in a fistfight during a football game. Fistfighting is not a necessary part of playing football, and an individual would only enter into a fistfight to cause harm or injury; and
- Defective or faulty equipment: If the sports equipment used was somehow faulty and those faults or defects were not anticipated when the plaintiff voluntarily played the game, they could have a claim against the owner of the property or equipment manufacturer;
- This may only apply if the plaintiff was injured directly because the equipment was defective or faulty.
What are Some Youth Sports Accident Statistics?
Participating in a recreational sport is one of the leading causes of injuries in children and youths. Each year, millions of children in the United States participate in sports, including:
- Swimming; and
- Other sports.
Although these activities can aid in a child’s development, they may also result in various types of youth sports injuries and accidents. The following youth sports accident statistics were compiled from:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics;
- The National SAFE Kids Campaign; and
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The statistics apply mainly to children 14 years of age and younger. Youth sports accident statistics among children aged 14 years and younger include:
- An estimated 3.5 million children are injured in some fashion through participation in recreational sports;
- Every year, over 775,000 children require hospital treatment due to participation in sports activities;
- 1 out of every 4 children’s sports injuries is considered serious;
- 62% of children’s sports injuries occur during practice sessions;
- Sports cause 21% of head trauma incidents in children. The majority of head trauma cases in children are caused by:
- skateboarding; and
- skating activities;
- Prior to puberty, girls are injured more frequently than boys in sports, but during and after puberty, boys suffer more sports injuries than girls;
- The severity of sports-related injuries among children increases as the child gets older.
- Youths who are new at a sport and just beginning are more likely to get injured than more experienced participants;
- Half of the middle and high school injuries result from overuse of a particular joint or muscle.
- Up to 85% of bicycling-related head injuries may be prevented through the use of proper helmet and headgear; and
- Baseball is associated with the highest fatality rate for persons aged 5-14, and three to four children die yearly from baseball injuries.
The number of hospital emergency room visits for children ages 5 to 14 by sport in 2009 included:
- Football: 215,00 children, with around 10,000 children being hospitalized due to their injuries;
- Bicycling: Over 200,000 children;
- Basketball: Over 170,000 children;
- Baseball/softball: Around 110,000 children;
- Soccer: 88,000 children;
- Skateboarding: Over 66,000 children, with more than 4,500 children hospitalized due to their injuries;
- Trampolines: 65,000 children;
- In-line/Roller skating: 47,000 children;
- Skiing/Snowboarding: Over 25,000;
- Ice Hockey: 20,000;
- Sledding/tobogganing: Over 16,000; and
Should I Seek Legal Help?
A youth sports injury lawsuit often involves monetary damages awards to help cover medical bills, insurance fees, rehab and therapy costs, and other economic considerations. It may be in your best interests to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you need assistance filing a personal injury claim that involves children’s sports.
Your lawyer can review your case, determine if you may be eligible to receive compensation, and can represent you during the litigation process.