When we drop our kids off at school, we expect them to learn, to grow, and above all, to be kept safe. But sometimes, kids can be injured in schools due to the negligence of the school, its faculty, or other students. These risks increase as kids get older and start to participate in team sports. Indeed, in many areas, and especially Florida, high school sports are vastly important and formative in our children’s lives. These sports are increasingly fast paced and the level of play has elevated to semiprofessional levels across the nation. While this makes for a more exciting and difficult spectacle, the resulting forces working on our kids’ bodies have increased exponentially, and with these increased forces have come increased and unforeseen risks of injury.
In a recent study by the popular physics magazine, Popular Mechanics, it was revealed that oftentimes football players’ bodies experience over half a ton of force on impact in a tackle. These NFL style impacts have been known to deliver crushing blows that cause season-ending injuries, all in the name of sports spectacle. These hits are certainly spectacular, but they often come at the cost of the players’ health, especially when you consider the damage caused by head-to-head collisions and concussions. These damages are not limited to football, and even sports not usually lumped into the “contact sports” category like baseball and soccer, have resulted in tragic brain damage. Add to these immense forces the risks of amateur athletes across the nation and you have a recipe for disaster. A recent study put the number of high school sports-related concussions as high as 3.8 million per year. That’s more than the number of new AIDS, Heart Disease, and Cancer cases combined.
These types of brain injuries are collectively called TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injuries. TBIs can be concussions, or even more dangerous conditions, like brain aneurysms. These TBIs can lead to a myriad of greater health concerns, like ALS and other degenerative diseases that have a devastating effect on those afflicted and their families and friends. It is true that in schools, these injuries most often result from sports, but there are many other ways in which kids can be injured and suffer a TBI, with something as little as a slip and fall causing concussions or other traumatic injuries.
These injuries leave us angry and afraid that our children’s future medical expenses will be overwhelming and that as parents, we’ll be left holding the bill. In these situations it is important to have an experience legal team on your side to litigate your case and zealously advocate for your child’s future, like the experienced litigation experts at the Dolman Law Group on your side. Facing a school district in court can be a daunting task, and one that is best left to experienced litigators. On top of public opinion and a significant legal base, Schools have become increasingly difficult to sue. Arising out of the doctrine of sovereign immunity, schools and other government entities were traditionally absolutely immune to civil liability. However, in recent years, opportunities have arisen to successfully challenge this archaic system. It has long been the case in Florida that schools are not immune from charges of recklessness or intentional torts. In recent years, the ability of schools to shield themselves from negligence has been eroded. This has led many districts to adopt the use of “hold harmless” release forms, in which a participant in an activity agrees to hold the school harmless for any damages that they may incur. However, these releases are not absolute and they must be signed by both the participant and their parent or legal guardian if they are under 18 in order to be valid.
These hold true in Florida because of Florida’s adherence to the doctrine of express assumption of risk, in which participants in activities have expressly agreed not to hold the defendant liable for injuries. These do not fully prevent any liability from touching the drafters of these agreements, but rather only those injuries which are caused by simple negligence, recklessness or intentional injuries are still held liable under these agreements. In the context of high school sports, judges have held voluntary participation in these sports to amount to express assumption of risk, but have held that in order for this to amount to a hold harmless agreement; the injury must have been reasonably foreseeable in the inherent nature of the sport.
This is where your lawyer should step in. Because of the immense dangers of the forces involved in these sports associated with improvements in conditioning, sports science, and equipment, players, parents, and even coaches may not be aware of the dangers of these sports. When this is the case, there can be no express, or even implied, assumption of risk, as the risk was not “reasonably foreseeable” as the doctrine requires. Thus, when an injury of this nature has occurred, it is important to contact experienced attorneys, like the litigation team at the Dolman Law Group, to handle your case. These cases are tricky and require an experienced attorney to establish that the school owed your child a duty, that it breached this duty, that this breach of duty significantly caused your child’s injury, and that your child was sufficiently injured to warrant liability in court. If you or your loved one has been injured in a school related accident, do not hesitate to call your Clearwater Personal Injury Attorneys at the Dolman Law Group.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765