Sports Concussions and Injuries
School negligence extends beyond the classroom and into extra-curricular activities such as afterschool sports and gym class. Teachers are expected to provide a safe environment for children to play and must maintain adequate supervision throughout the activity. Teachers are also expected to anticipate foreseeable danger and must act to prevent injuries that may occur.
A school can be held liable for a student’s injury if the incident that occurred was reasonably foreseeable, and the lack of supervision is a direct cause of the injury.
The law takes a different approach when it comes to voluntary activities such as sports. In afterschool sports, students assume the risks that accompany the sports when they sign up to play. Thus, the school is only responsible for unforeseeable risks and unreasonably increased risks.
Students who participate in afterschool sports typically sign a permission slip that states that they assume the risks that are involved with the sport. The permission slip does not waive all responsibility from the school; schools are still liable if there is inadequate supervision.
In the event that your child sustains a concussion during a school related activity, there is a list of guidelines the school must adhere to. The statutes are listed below:
A.R.S. § 15-341 (24): This statute requires school districts to provide guidelines, information, and forms, to properly educate coaches, students, and parents of the dangers of concussions and head injuries and the risks of continued participation in an athletic activity after sustaining a concussion.
Parents and students are required to sign an information form at least once a year that states the parent is aware of the risk for concussions.
A.R.S. § 15-341 (24)(b): If a player is suspected of sustaining a concussion, he or she is to be removed from the activity immediately. The law permits a player to return to the activity on the same day only if a health care provider rules out a suspected concussion. A player may return to play if a health care provider who has been trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and head injuries has evaluated the player and has given written clearance to resume play. Any group that uses property or a facility owned or operated by a school district for athletic activities must also comply with the law’s requirements.
A “health care provider” under this law only includes the following:
- A physician licensed under Title 32, Chapters 13 (doctor of medicine) or 17 (doctor of osteopathic medicine),
- An athletic trainer licensed under Title 32, Chapter 31,
- A nurse practitioner licensed under Title 32, Chapter 15,
- Or, a physician assistant licensed under Title 32, Chapter 25.
A.R.S. § 15-341 (24)(b) provides civil immunity for any health care provider who is a volunteer and who provides written clearance to participate in athletic activity when that provider’s decisions and actions are based on good faith implementation of the requirements of the statute, except in cases of gross negligence.
If a school district fails to adhere and comply to these statutes, it is considered negligence, and the district may be held liable.
When it comes to sports injuries and injuries during physical education classes, we have to look at them on a case by case basis. If you believe your child has been a victim of school negligence, you’ll want to speak with an experienced Phoenix school injury attorney. Our school negligence lawyers will be able to look at your child’s specific case and determine if there was a lack of supervision and if the incident was foreseeable.
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