Youth Sports Injury are common.  Brain Injuries in youth sports have reached epidemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 300,000 sports and recreational traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur in the United States each year.  Concussions also occur in other contact and non-contact youth sport, including ice hockey, basketball, cheerleading and soccer. 

Returning an athlete to play (before the brain injury has healed from an initial concussion) can result in post-concussion syndrome or secondary impact syndrome.

The key to preventing permanent neurological deficits is to prevent the athlete from returning to play until the brain has healed.  Failure to do so may result in a claim of inadequate concussion management.

  • Duty Owed to Young Athletes

Three main categories of defendants are potentially liable in inadequate concussion management cases.

  • Coaches and Schools
  • Health Care Providers
  • Governing Bodies

Using a rules of the road approach to establish the standard of care begins with finding out what rules apply to the three groups mentioned above.  What should they have done?  It is critical to determine what the coach, provider or staff knew or should have known about the athlete’s concussion – or suspected concussion – and what action was taken to evaluate the athlete before returning to play.

Potential defenses to an inadequate concussion management are

  • Assumption of Risk
  • Statutory Immunities that may apply to coaches and schools and volunteers,
  • Waivers of liability

Helmet requirements are only part of the problem.  The pressure to win can be an active factor in putting an injured athlete back into play too soon.  Professional athletes have sued there teams for not properly advising them of the risks of traumatic brain injury.