Your son or daughter plays a high school sport. Everything goes well for years, but then your child suffers a serious injury. After the dust settles and he or she comes home from the hospital, you start wondering if you can sue.
You may be able to, but experts note that these lawsuits don't always succeed. There are a few key points to consider.
First and foremost, did you and your child sign a waiver? You can still sue in some cases, but the waiver may prevent certain lawsuits or limit your options. Know the fine print before you sign. Understand exactly what rights you're signing away. Sports are dangerous, and accidental injuries do happen.
Perhaps the biggest thing to consider is whether or not negligence factors into the case. This means that your young athlete was owed some level of care by the school and failed to see it honored. Injuries can happen even when no one was negligent, and then you may not have a case.
For instance, perhaps your son is playing high school football. He's taught how to tackle properly by the coaches, he's given state-of-the-art equipment, and he breaks his neck because he lowers his head unsafely as he makes a tackle. You likely cannot sue, as this may simply be your son's fault.
However, maybe your son has faulty equipment. Both the helmet and the shoulder pads that he wears are outdated and worn out from previous use. He's been nervous about getting hurt all year, and he's told the coaches. They didn't give him any new equipment, and then he finally got injured -- just like he feared all along.
If you think the faulty gear caused the neck injury, rather than the form he used when making the tackle, then you may be able to argue that the school and the coaches were negligent. He could have been protected, but they failed to give him the safe equipment he needed.
With waivers, negligence and a general assumption of risk while playing dangerous sports, these lawsuits can be complex. After your child is hurt, make sure you fully understand the law and the options you have.
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