Wrongful Death Lawyers
School children face many obstacles to recovering compensation for injuries sustained in elementary and high school sports, especially traumatic brain injuries that result from sports–related concussions. There is a general bias that children “bounce back” from injuries better than adults. However, there is a growing body of literature showing that, like adults, children can sustain lifelong injury from repetitive head injuries or even a single concussion. The resulting brain injury can have a profound effect on the individual’s earning capacity, social status, relationships and life expectancy.
Misguided adults promote scenarios wherein children are put at risk of traumatic head injuries. Soccer players are taught how to head balls. Hockey players are taught how to check into boards and even fight. Football players are not taught proper tackling techniques. The use of helmets creates the illusion of protection when in fact they only lead to more violent collisions. Likewise, many sports that are not thought to lead to head injuries, like Lacrosse, soccer and basketball, generate serious head injuries through unintended collisions that occur in the course of competition. Other concussions result from collisions with structures like goal posts, benches, walls and hard floors.
Oftentimes, children cannot recover compensation for injuries that occur in the course of contact sports. Recreational user statutes provide immunity to competitors who may cause an injury. Sovereign immunity or political subdivision immunity immunizes public school districts that organize competitive sports. Proving negligence in the face of these immunity statutes often requires proof of intentional misconduct or recklessness.
A recent court decision illustrates this obstacle to recovery. In this case, the parents of a high school football player who suffered a traumatic brain injury during practice sued the school district. The judge dismissed the case holding that a public school is not responsible for contact between players during sports that causes a concussion.
Another obstacle to recovery lies in the state of medical science. There are not any large studies of pediatric populations that establish which individuals will experience permanent injury from a concussion and which will recover fully. Further, there are no long-term study showing how differing degrees of brain damage affect young people as they enter the workplace and go through the aging process. We note generally that individuals with traumatic brain injury are prone to lower wages, underemployment, early-onset of dementia, increased suicide rates and lower life expectancy, but proving the economic impact of these risks is currently somewhat speculative.