Sports Injuries and Concussions

Concussions caused by high school contact sports are a fast-growing epidemic. Concussions are caused by a blow to the head. In many cases, the blow may not seem especially hard, and the child, parents, and/or coaches may not even realize the severity of the injury. When left undetected, a concussion can lead to long-term brain damage. As many as one in five high school athletes will sustain a sports concussion during any given school year. According to the CDC, the number of reported concussions among children 8-13 years old has doubled, while among teens ages 14-19, the number of reported concussions has increased 200%.

A first hit for a young athlete can be problematic; however, a second or third serious impact to the head can result in permanent brain damage. High school football is responsible for nearly half of all sports-related concussions, with 33% of those occurring during practice. Following football, ice hockey and soccer are the most likely sports to result in a concussion. Other sports, including basketball, baseball and softball, cheerleading, wrestling, swimming and gymnastics can also result in various types of sports injuries. The number of reported concussions doubled between 2002 and 2012. While concussions can be the most serious type of sports injury suffered by high school athletes, other common injuries among young athletes include:

• Bruises;
• Sprains;
• Torn ligaments;
• Fractures;
• Spinal cord injuries;
• Growth plate injuries, and
• Overuse injuries.

Pushing Young Athletes to Ignore Injuries
Unfortunately, high school sports can be extremely competitive, particularly in smaller schools with fewer players. In their zeal to get players back on the field, coaches, school officials or teachers may push these young athletes to play despite their injury. In some cases the coach, teacher or other school official may be unaware of the symptoms of a concussion; therefore, will not recommend the child be checked out by a doctor. When a concussion has occurred, the player must be asymptomatic and be cleared by a physician prior to returning to the sport. In the case of a joint problem, the player must have regained full range of motion and normal levels of strength and have no pain or swelling.

A new study by Safe Kids Worldwide shows that young athletes feel pressure to play even when hurt, and that our culture is one which ignores sports injuries in favor of “winning.” In fact, 42% of the children surveyed admitted to downplaying or even hiding injuries in order to keep playing. More than 53% of coaches admitted they have felt pressure to put injured players back in the game. All states now require that young athletes be pulled from the game if there is any suspicion of concussion at all, and sports associations are working to ensure coaches are properly trained to both recognize concussions and other injuries as well as to immediately pull a child with a suspected injury from the game—no matter how badly the team wants or needs a win.

Who Is Responsible for Sports Injuries?
Liability for public schools regarding a sports injury or concussion is different from that of private schools, in that private schools may set their own policies. However, if a coach or other school official acted recklessly or negligently, parents might be able to recover for injuries under a negligence claim. It must be shown that the coach owed the student a duty of care, the coach breached that duty of care, and that breach of duty resulted in measurable injuries to the student. In other words, the coach was fully aware of an unsafe or hazardous condition, but failed to address or remedy that condition. If a young athlete was hit in the head during a football game and the coach was aware the child had a prior incidence of concussion, but put him back into the game anyway, the coach could probably be held liable for any resulting injuries. If you feel your child’s coach acted in a negligent or reckless manner, it is important to speak to an attorney to ensure your child’s rights and future are protected.

Contact Our Washington DC Child Injury Lawyers
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our child injury lawyers have extensive experience representing injured children and families in Washington, DC metro area, Virginia, and throughout the State of Maryland. If your child has sustained a concussion in sporting accident, there are ways we can help. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6645 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.

The child injury attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, Maryland, and throughout Virginia.