Choosing to Participate in Sports Involves Assumption of Some Risk
Under a legal doctrine known as “assumption of the risk”, people who participate in sports are unable to recover for injuries that occur as a result of the way the game is generally played. For many people, this makes intuitive sense – a football player who suffers a sprained ankle when he or she is tackled cannot turn around and sue for damages, as it is simply part of the game. By voluntarily agreeing to play a sport, a participant assumes the risks inherent in that activity.
When Can An Injured Athlete Recover?
- Injuries caused by defective equipment: In some cases, sports injuries may be caused by equipment that is defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed. Common examples of the kinds of sports equipment that, if defective, could cause injury include helmets, pads, skates, baseball bats, hockey sticks, shoes, or boating equipment.
- Injuries caused by negligent premises maintenance: Another common source of accidental injury in sports that may be legally actionable is the failure of a party to adequately maintain the field or area in which an athletic activity occurs. Examples of these kinds of cases could involve issues such as goal posts that are not properly secured on a football field or liquid spills that are not cleaned within a reasonable amount of time on a basketball court.
- Injuries caused by negligent coaching: Coaches have a duty to provide their players with adequate guidance and training and also to not put them in a situation for which they are not prepared in regard to their current level of skill and experience. When coaches fail to meet this duty, often they or their employer can be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result.
- The intentional or reckless acts of another player: While not a sports “accident,” another situation in which injured athletes may be able to recover is when their injury is caused by the intentional acts of another participant, such as if a player assaulted another player. Relatedly, some courts allow sports participants to recover if the actions of the other player were reckless and outside of the ordinary way in which the sport is played.
Common Injuries Sustained in Sports Accidents
Individuals who are injured while playing sports often sustain extremely serious injuries. Some of the more common include the following:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Muscle tears
- Nerve damage
After a sports injury, it is critical for victims to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In many cases, the true extent of an injury is unclear until hours or days after it has occurred, and it is best to start treatment as soon as possible. In addition, undergoing a thorough medical evaluation conducted by a medical professional will result in the generation of an official record that can help establish damages and the fact that your injuries were sustained during the athletic activity at issue in the event that your case becomes contested.
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