Are Schools Liable for Sports Injuries?

It’s sports season at schools around the country. As sports teams kick into high gear, so do the possible sports-related injuries. When players are injured, should the school be held responsible? One recent decision said “no.”

In the incident cited by the lawsuit, Sheldon Mann was playing football for the Palmerton Area School District when he was hit hard, reported the Daily Item. Despite showing concussion-like symptoms, he was put back in the game where he suffered another violent hit. Sheldon was ultimately diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

Sheldon’s parents sued the school and the coach. They claimed that, by requiring him to continue to play after the first hit, the coach violated his “constitutional right to bodily integrity,” with the article noting that “[t]he law provides that a local agency such as a school district could be liable under the constitution for creating a danger to a citizen who, like a student, was under the control of a government body.”

The lower court ruled in favor of the coach and school, dismissing the case. When brought to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the article noted, the judge ruled that, “while there was ‘ample evidence’ to suggest the coach was guilty under a state-created danger theory of liability, the parents and student still could not prevail” due to “qualified immunity,” meaning in 2011, when the injury happened, the dangers of concussions were not fully known.

Do you know someone with an injury that you believe is the result of someone’s negligence? Contact Shaffer & Gaier online for a free consultation, or call us at 215-751-0100.

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