A high school student has died after collapsing during a game. The name and exact cause of death have not been released. The school is providing grief counselors for staff and students. Meanwhile, the student’s family may be left to sort out difficult legal issues in order to pay for the medical and funeral costs.
School Sports and Legal Liability
School sports inevitably lead to injury, though many of these are minor in nature. In most cases, your personal health insurance will have to foot the bill, minus copays and deductibles, because the injury is a risk assumed when playing the sport. When negligence in organized sports leads to more serious injuries and the medical bills that come with them, you may wish to file a personal injury claim to help you pay the bills. However, filing suit against schools and their employees is more difficult than other personal injury suits.
Public school boards and, by extension, schools, are protected by sovereign immunity. Schools and other government entities protected by sovereign immunity can not be sued without their consent except in rare cases. Similarly, school employees carry official immunity, making it difficult to sue them.
There are some exceptions to sovereign and official immunity:
- The school purchases a separate, specific insurance policy for the act which caused the injury.
- A school employee acted negligently with regards to a clear rule.
- A school employee acted with malice or intent to cause injury.
However, even if you believe your case falls under one of the above exceptions, successfully navigating sovereign and official immunity is difficult. It is rare that suits against traditionally immune government entities are accepted, and those that are must follow strict guidelines.
Steps After Injury
If your child is injured in connection with an organized school sport, especially if you feel the school or coach was negligent, be certain to gather all of the facts, including:
- Photographs of the injury and any other pertinent details
- Record of any communication from coaches or school officials
- Any school or sport rules related to the injury
- Record of all medical expenses related to the injury
These items will be essential for any future legal action, which will require not only proof of negligence but also proof that this negligence is not subject to sovereign or official immunity.
Do not let the difficult nature of public school suits dissuade you. If your child was injured while practicing or playing an organized sport, contact a personal injury attorney. Your attorney can help you to determine whether or not your case falls under sovereign or official immunity. If so, he or she will proceed with the next step, which is typically filing notice with the school.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If your child has been injured as a result of organized school sports, be sure to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. It is essential that you contact the attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law right away, as you have only one year from the time of the injury to file your suit.