Can I Sue My Child’s School for a Brain Injury?
With millions of children participating in organized sports, sports-related injuries occur daily. Some injuries are minor, but others can require extensive medical treatment.
In most cases, sports injuries are accidental and occur due to the natural course of the game. However, there are instances where these injuries occur because another party was negligent and acted recklessly.
In these circumstances, the injured victim has the right to take legal action. To know whether your claim may be worth pursuing, it’s always best to speak with an experienced sports injury lawyer who can evaluate your case.
Contact The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, P.L.L.C., to schedule a free, strictly confidential review of your case.
What Are the Common Youth Sports-Related Injuries?
About 30 million youth participate in organized sports in the U.S., with more than 3.5 million yearly injuries. Participants in youth sports teams and leagues face a variety of injuries. Team sports such as soccer, football, and hockey can often present more risk for injury due to the interaction with other players. However, individual sports can present some risks as well. Some common types of youth sports injuries can include:
- Muscle strains and sprained joints,
- Abrasions and cut wounds
- Broken bones
- Spinal injuries and paralysis, and
- Head trauma or concussions.
These injuries can occur in any sports activity, but the more common ones include football, soccer, basketball, cheerleading, and hockey.
Brain Injury Risks and Prevention in Youth Sports
A concussion, a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), is one of the most common sports-related injuries. In an attempt to reduce the number of injuries due to concussions, Virginia law requires schools to create policies for handling concussions in young athletes. The law requires that schools have a system for student-athletes to be screened by a health professional before returning to practice or competing in games.
Concussions and traumatic brain injuries are some of the most severe injuries because closed-head injuries are not always immediately recognized. A person can sustain a concussion or TBI without losing consciousness. If an athlete continues to play and does not seek immediate treatment for a head injury, they may suffer serious or permanent damage.
Can You Sue a School in Virginia?
Under Virginia law, individuals can pursue civil claims for monetary damages against the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thus, it is possible to sue a school in Virginia, but there are several rules you must follow, including a notice of claim requirement. The notice of claim is required when you have a case against the Commonwealth of Virginia or local government, including cities, counties, and towns.
This requirement ensures that you provide timely notice of a personal injury claim against the governmental entity.
Generally speaking, Virginia law protects the Commonwealth’s employees from ordinary negligence but does protect against claims of gross negligence or intentional torts. The notice of claim requirement is tolled in child injury claims. A child has until their 19th birthday to give notice of a personal injury action against the Commonwealth of Virginia or local government.
But we do not recommend waiting until the deadline to file a claim.
If you need a traumatic brain injury lawyer with the skills and experience to handle all types of concussion and other TBI cases, please contact us today. We can walk you through the parties that may be liable for the injury and the correct procedure to follow to recover for your child’s injury.
When Can You Sue a School or Athletic Organization for Your Child’s Sports Injury?
One of the most significant barriers to recovering a damages award in a youth sports injury lawsuit is consent or the assumption of risk. To participate in most school sports teams, the parent must sign a consent form or waiver stating that the parent and child understand the risks associated with a particular sport.
Just because you signed a waiver does not mean you have no case. Schools can be held responsible for risks that are not inherent to the sport, regardless of a signed form. It is critical to seek legal counsel when deciding how to handle the liability aspect of your child’s injury. An experienced lawyer skilled in sports injury law can analyze your situation and determine whether the waiver will prevent you from taking action.
What Are the Exceptions of the Assumption of the Risk Rule?
Under the assumption of risk rule, you generally cannot file a lawsuit against the defendant for your injuries if you signed a contract stating that you would not bring a legal case to them. The assumption of the risk rule seeks to prevent liability against the defendant. This rule also prevents the injured party from bringing a claim.
The assumption of risk defense is based on contract law, so this defense does not apply to:
- Intentional acts,
- Product liability, and
- Negligent coaching.
Most sports activities fall under the assumption of risk. As such, those injuries are not compensable.
But each situation is different, and the injured participant may be able to recover from their injuries if intentional acts, recklessness, a defective product, or negligent coaching caused them.
Who Is Liable for Your Child’s Brain Injury at School?
The following are potential parties that can be held liable for a sports-related injury:
- School districts,
- Owners of sports facilities,
- Equipment manufactures,
- Other players, and
- Trainers or medical staff.
It is always recommended to have the circumstances of the injury reviewed by an experienced attorney. An experienced personal injury can thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury to determine if it could have been avoided.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Sports-Related Injury Lawsuit?
Often, liability is unclear to someone without extensive experience in personal injury law. Deciding to proceed without an attorney could mean losing a substantial amount of compensation. With the help of a lawyer, your family can determine which parties may be liable for your child’s injuries.
For example, a school district may be liable when it consistently allows excessive force during football practice or games. Sports coaches or instructors may be responsible for allowing dangerous conditions to occur, including:
- Encouraging conduct or behavior that is outside of the rules of the sport,
- Failing to remove an injured player from the game,
- Physically assaulting a player,
- Pushing the child beyond reasonable limits,
- Using faulty equipment, or
- Failing to administer necessary medical care.
If your child sustains an injury because of a coach’s negligence or another player’s recklessness, you may be able to take legal action.
Potential Damages for Negligence Causing a Brain Injury
If your child suffered a serious sports-related injury, a lawsuit might be the best way to get the compensation you need to move forward. You may be able to seek a settlement or file suit against the negligent party to seek damages such as:
- Costs associated with medical treatment for the TBI,
- Lost future earning potential,
- Noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering and reduced quality of life, and
- Out-of-pocket costs while seeking medical treatment for the child.
Need to Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Child’s Sports-Related Injury?
The legal team at The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett understands the devastation and confusion of dealing with a child’s brain injury. In fact, our lead attorney, Carlton F. Bennett, is a member of the Brain Injury Association of America and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.
A child’s brain injury can immediately impact your family and your child’s future. It is important to consider your legal options as you seek financial recovery for your child. Please contact us for a risk-free consultation at no charge. We can help determine whether you have legal recourse for your child’s sports-related brain injury.
Call us today to get started, or complete and submit our online contact form. With a law office in Virginia Beach, we serve communities throughout the Hampton Roads region.