Children and Sports Injuries
Tens of thousands of Canadians are hospitalized each year for sports and winter activity injuries. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, about 20 percent of these hospitalizations occur in people aged 17 or younger. Experiencing a serious sports injury can be highly traumatizing. Most of these children will recover as their sprains, strains and broken bones heal, but a severe sports accident can cause permanent disability or even death.
There are inherent risks involved when participating in any kind of sport - particularly one with physical contact or unpredictable environmental conditions. But, if an injury is caused by another person’s intent to cause harm or by an individual’s or institution’s negligence, an injured child may be eligible to make a claim for compensation and damages for the losses they’ve experienced.
If your young loved one has been involved in a serious sports accident, speaking with a knowledgeable and experienced sports accident lawyer can help you as you consider your options.
Common Sports Accidents and Injuries.
Whether it's a solo, team or league sport, injuries caused by preventable accidents are unfortunately quite common. Many of these injuries are sustained during regular play and they occur despite participants and organizers taking reasonable safety precautions (according to their duty of care and/or responsibilities under the Occupier’s Liability Act). An awkward landing from a fall, a collision between players, or unexpected contact with sporting equipment such as balls, bats, or stationary items can all lead to these common injuries:
- Muscle tears, sprains and strains.
- Torn ligaments and tendons.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
- Bone fractures.
- Dislocated joints.
Contact sports such as hockey, football, rugby, lacrosse, wrestling and boxing are well known for having an elevated risk of a traumatic injury. However, participants in high-speed sports with challenging terrain such as downhill skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking, or thrill sports activities such as whitewater rafting, tobogganing, skateboarding and parachuting are also much more likely to sustain an injury compared to lower impact sports. Participants of sports activities that use streets and highways such as distance running, cycling, or ATV riding run the risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents. And people involved in water sports such as swimming, diving, and boating are at risk of drowning or near drowning.
Accidents and possible traumatic sports injuries may also result from defective products and equipment used in the sports activity.
Skill, knowledge and safety.
Sports accidents happen to people of all skill levels, including professional athletes. However, children participating in sports and sporting activities are often novices who are in the process of learning the rules of the game; they may not be as familiar with techniques and strategies to reduce the risk of injury. Children are also not expected to be as careful as a reasonable adult would be in the same situation. As a result, it is very important for instructors, coaches and sports organizers to spend time teaching young players how to keep themselves as safe as possible.
In addition to ensuring children are wearing the proper protective gear (if necessary), supervisors of youth sporting activities must regularly inspect equipment used in the activity, keep the playing field or premises free of hazards, and gauge the readiness of young players to participate. When facilitating activities where there is an inherent risk of injury, organizers have a duty of care and bear a higher degree of responsibility over what occurs. The people in charge of supervising minors during sports activities must provide a standard of care to these participants consistent with what a “careful and prudent parent” would do.
If one child injures another during the course of play, the child may bear some liability for the injury depending on the circumstances. In these instances, sometimes an injured party can make a claim on the child’s parents’ home insurance or general liability insurance policy.
However, courts will consider the age of the participants, whether the injury occurred from activity outside normal or “fair” play or by intentionally disregarding rules, and whether the child received adequate training, instruction and supervision prior to being permitted to play. Adult organizers, therefore, may share liability or be completely liable for the injury if their negligence or recklessness put participants in an unsafe situation.
Although there are inherent risks in sports and an implied assumption of risk when a person participates, sometimes organizers of these activities will attempt to explicitly draw participants’ attention to risks. By asking players (or their parents and guardians) to sign liability waivers, organizers may attempt to absolve themselves of any liability for injuries as a result of accidents - even if the organizers’ own negligence caused or contributed to the harm.
Many people wrongly believe that if they signed an accident waiver prior to engaging in a sporting activity, they cannot sue an organizer or operator for damages. This is not true. A comprehensive, well-worded waiver that has been adequately explained and brought to the attention of a participant can be a very difficult bar to overcome in a personal injury lawsuit. However, courts will examine the waiver of liability in the context of the specific facts of the case to determine if it is enforceable.
First, the waiver’s language must specifically refer to the circumstances of an accident and have language that explicitly excludes liability for such an accident by negligence of the organization and/or an individual.
Next, courts will consider factors that may limit or nullify the waiver. These include:
- familiarity and previous experience with the activity and/or facility or play space.
- a person’s capacity to understand and the waiver and consent to it.
- when and how the waiver was presented to the participant, and whether they had sufficient time to read it and understand it.
- whether the language in the waiver was clear or confusing.
Ontario courts have also found that a waiver may not be enforceable if the organization/individual did not make reasonable efforts to keep participants safe.
When Your Child Has Been Hurt.
Learning that your child has been seriously injured in a sports accident, whether as a participant or spectator, can be devastating. Beyond the trauma of the accident itself, sustaining a debilitating injury or permanent disability can change the course of their young life forever.
Sometimes, no one is to blame for these tragic accidents. But in other cases, negligent actions or inaction by a person or institution is the cause or a contributing factor to the harm your child suffered. It is always worthwhile to consult a knowledgeable, skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer to determine if your child is eligible to claim compensation and damages from one or more of these negligent parties.
When you contact Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers for a free, no obligation initial consultation, we will listen to your story with great empathy, explain your various options clearly, and offer to help you in any way we can. If we believe we can negotiate a fair settlement or win a court award for damages for you and your loved one, we will offer to become your trusted legal representative and advocate.
A commitment to full-circle care.
Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers treat our clients as we would treat our own family. That means not only providing high quality legal services, but also doing whatever we can to help your family on the road to recovery. Our renowned client liaisons - some of whom have experienced their own personal injury cases - will be available to answer any questions you have about the litigation process and to connect you with helpful resources for your healing journey.
We believe that a person’s financial resources should never be a barrier to accessing justice. That’s why we work on contingency for you. We will cover all expenses while pursuing your case and will only ever accept payment for our services if we are successful in negotiating a fair settlement for you or winning a court award for damages.
Recognized by our peers in the legal field for our professionalism, we have been consistently named as one of Canada’s top personal injury firms and have developed a strong reputation for getting results for our clients. By choosing Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers to be your trusted advocate, you can be confident that we will work diligently on your behalf and handle your case with the utmost care. With so little to lose and so much to gain, take the first step on a path to securing your loved one a better future by contacting us today.
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Tell us about your accident or injury. We can help.
At Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers, the initial meeting is free and without obligation on your part – and we never charge you legal fees until your claim is settled.