In some states, high school sports waivers are required and, oftentimes, a child athlete cannot participate in high school sports without one. A waiver is the release of the right to sue a person, educational institution, or organization for an injury prior to any damages occurring.

Many parents sign sports waivers without a second thought, but is it the right choice? And, by signing that waiver are you actually waiving your child’s right to bring a lawsuit if they were injured?

Under New York law, a release or waiver of liability signed by a parent is not binding on a minor child since a parent cannot waive a child’s right to sue for damages due to injury.

However, if your child athlete is involved in high school sports, he or she may be found to have “assumed the risk” of injury by participating in the sport. As such, recovery for your child athlete’s sports injury may be barred if the doctrine of “primary assumption of risk” is deemed applicable.

The concept of “primary assumption of risk” is applicable to situations where the activity in which the child is voluntarily participating in is itself “inherently risky”, such as a sporting event, and the injury-causing event is a known, apparent or reasonably foreseeable consequence of participation in the sport.

Under New York law, it is well settled that by “engaging in a sport or recreational activity, a participant consents to those commonly appreciated risks which are inherent in and arise out of the nature of the sport generally and flow from such participation. As such, relieving an owner or operator of a sporting venue from liability for inherent risks of engaging in a sport may be justified when a consenting participant is aware of the risks; has an appreciation of the nature of the risks; and voluntarily assumes the risks.

Oftentimes, in evaluating whether to apply the “assumption of risk doctrine” in assessing the duty of care owed by an owner or operator of a sporting facility, a determination must be made as to whether the minor child had not only knowledge of the injury-causing defect but also appreciation of the resultant risk involved in his or her participation in the sport. Factors such as the age, background of the skill and experience of the particular child with the sport are often considered in determining whether there was an “assumption of the risk” involved in the sporting activity.

However, a child athlete is not deemed to have “assumed the risks” of a concealed or unreasonably increased risk in determining whether the owner or operator of a sporting venue is relieved from their duty of care within the genre of tort-sports activities. Also, a child athlete is not deemed to have “assumed the risks” associated with injuries caused by gross negligence, such as a coach knowingly putting a child at risk that was likely to cause harm. Fortunately, this encourages schools to take extra steps to ensure your child’s safety.

After suffering from a severe sports injury due to negligence, it may be a good idea to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.  While insurance may cover some of the medical costs, it does not compensate for the pain and suffering a victim suffers, including, emotional distress, and the inability to enjoy the game they love to play.

If your child becomes injured while playing a fall sport, contact The People’s Lawyer. As both lawyers and parents, we understand your child’s yearning to participate and the frustration when they are forced to sit on the bench due to a sports injury. However, if the coach or school’s negligence created dangerous conditions above the child’s safety in the sport, your child’s sports injury may not be their fault or related to the risk of playing the sport they love to play. Your child may be entitled to compensation for his or her injury in a sports injury lawsuit. Contact Brindisi, Murad, Brindisi & Pearlman for a free consultation today.



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