When Children’s Sports Become Dangerous Due to Negligence
Sports leagues exist in every neighborhood, giving kids the opportunity to play soccer, softball, flag football, or a whole host of other sports. Parents sign their kids up, embracing the opportunities for their kids to develop skills, build character, and have some good old-fashioned fun. But what happens when the playing field becomes dangerous, resulting in serious injuries to a child?
In the world of sports, anything can happen. Sports contest officials (SCOs) play a critical role in arbitrating the rules of the game, as well as in managing the tempers of players and their parents. When injuries occur, can SCOs be found liable?
Finding a Breach of Conduct
Determining whether or not the SCO has failed the duty of reasonable care can be vexing. Some acts are overt and easily identifiable, such as allowing a player to participate in play after suffering a concussion, or encouraging opposing team members to “duke it out.”
In other situations, the unintentional conduct of the SCO may lead to an injury, such as throwing a flag that accidentally impairs a player’s vision.
Ultimately, a key factor that must be considered is whether the injury exceeds that which is inherent to the sport. In other words, one must accept the fact that with all play there is an associated potential for injury. When the injury is beyond the normal accepted levels, and when negligence is a factor, compensatory damages are possible.
A Case for Negligence
Although not every injury is actionable, when a breach of duty exists, a case for negligence can be established.The standard of care in supervising an athletic contest relates to what is reasonable. Essentially, SCOs are expected to exercise due care. In the case of professional SCOs, that standard rises in tandem with greater levels of training. A case for malpractice rests on two essential components:
- A departure from the accepted or reasonable standard of care existed;
- The proximate cause of the injury is specifically linked to the negligence of the SCO.
Every SCO is required to
- Inspect equipment and facilities prior to play;
- Ensure players and fans comply with all safety regulations.
In determining negligence, it must be established that the injury would not have occurred but for the negligence of the SCO.
The more tricky determination lies in determining the legal cause of the injury. The courts look to the “foreseeability” of harm as one consideration. While the original cause of the incident may be clear, the question as to whether or not concurrent or intervening factors exacerbated the situation play a role in determining liability, as well.
Let Us Help You Today
If your child has suffered a significant injury due to negligence, you want someone to take responsibility. That can happen in a court of law. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Scoma Law Firm know how to navigate the legal system in order to provide you with the representation you deserve. Contact our Clermont office today for your free, confidential consultation.