Participating in school sporting activities is supposed to be a positive experience for children – allowing them to be physically active, learn new skills as well as learn discipline that also applies to other aspects of their lives. Occasionally, injuries do occur. When they do, it is important to understand who is liable and what you can do as a concerned parent.
Below are some commonly asked questions related to school-related sports injuries in Florida:
Q: My child’s school required I complete a sports waiver at the start of the school year. If I signed the form stating I understand the risks involved and will not hold the school liable for injury of my child, will that hold true in court?
A: It depends. Each situation is different and sports do have inherent risks, such as getting struck by a ball while playing softball or falling and twisting an ankle during soccer. However, injuries also occur when the appropriate safety precautions aren’t taken. Examples include lack of adult supervision, protective safety gear not provided, or children playing sports activities in an unsafe environment. If that is the case, parents may have cause for legal action as long as they can prove the injury otherwise could have been prevented. Recklessness and intentional wrongdoing by a school are difficult to prove, however, and rarely exist in the context of school sports programs.
Q: Why do inherent risks exempt schools from liability?
A: The law assumes that an individual participating in any particular sport is aware of the risks inherent to that sport. This is why parents are required to sign waivers for young children who are not of an appropriate age to assume such risk. By allowing your child to participate in the sport, you are demonstrating you understand and have assumed all of the risks inherent to that sport and the potential for injury.
Q: When is a school liable?
A: Schools are not exempt from all risks sustained by student-athletes. It is the duty of the educational facility to provide a safe environment for your child and they are responsible for protecting students from any foreseeable harm. If a school fails to do this, they could be found to have acted in a negligent manner, thus they could be liable for injury suffered by a child. In order to recover any damages for a Florida school-related sports injury, you must prove negligence on behalf of the school and demonstrate how it directly caused injury.
Seeking legal action against a school can be a long and somewhat complicated undertaking, particularly with public schools which are controlled by the government. If you are unsure whether your child’s sport-related injury merits seeking legal action against the school, contact TJ Grimaldi today.