Soccer is an increasingly popular sport in the United States, particularly with the young. For some people, soccer represents a safe alternative to football, which can cause concussions and other injuries. However, soccer itself presents its own dangers of traumatic brain injuries.
Soccer Head Injuries
Many people perceive soccer as a safer sport for children to play than American football. Nevertheless, soccer can cause head injuries. As the New York Times reported, at least one soccer player suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease more closely associated with NFL players. Soccer players can suffer head injuries in several ways:
- Hitting the ground after an aggressive tackle
- Taking an elbow to the head
- Running into a goalpost
- Repeated heading of the ball
- A collision of heads when two or more players attempt to head the ball
Some readers might feel surprised that simply heading the ball can lead to brain injuries. Nevertheless, scientists studying this issue have seen brain abnormalities in soccer players who are constantly heading the ball.
These abnormalities can cause serious problems, such as:
- Memory problems
- Increased headaches
- Trouble sleeping
Scientists do not yet know how much force will cause brain damage, but they do recommend that players younger than 14 not head the ball.
Assumption of the Risk
By its nature, soccer is a contact sport, and most participants know that going in. For that reason, it can prove difficult to bring a lawsuit for injuries your child suffered on the playing field.
California’s “primary assumption of the risk” doctrine prevents lawsuits when the injury results from commonplace physical contact in sports. In Knight v. Jewett, the California Supreme Court considered whether someone injured in a touch football game could bring a lawsuit for injuries suffered when the defendant stepped on her hand. The court decided that the injured plaintiff could not sue. Specifically, the court held that the defendant only owed a duty not to recklessly or intentionally injure other players, and accidentally stepping on someone’s hand did not qualify.
However, playing in a sport is not a complete bar to a lawsuit. One key question was whether the defendant’s conduct was so reckless that it fell completely outside the range of ordinary conduct involved in the sport. For example, somebody deliberately punching your child will probably fall outside the range of normal conduct. But other actions—even a rough tackle—might constitute normal contact and bar a lawsuit. Another question may be whether anyone took any action to change the risks inherent in the sport or activity.
If you have questions, call the experienced personal injury lawyers at Greene Broillet & Wheeler. They can help you assess whether the injury you or your child suffered stems from a reckless disregard for personal safety.
Suing a School
Another consideration is whether you have a valid legal claim against the school or sports league in which your child participates. The primary assumption of the risk will bar many lawsuits—and in some situations, you may not be permitted to sue the school even when a player deliberately attacks your child.
However, you might have a valid claim in certain situations, depending on the circumstances, including:
- A defect on the field contributed to your child’s head injury
- Coaching staff trained your child improperly, which contributed to a head injury
- The school did not follow the proper procedures after your child suffered a head injury
If you have a valid legal claim, you can bring a lawsuit against the school. However, the precise process will depend on whether you are suing a public school or a private club.
Generally, California agencies and municipalities are immune from lawsuits, and this includes school districts. Nevertheless, the California Tort Claims Act allows you to bring a lawsuit against a school district for negligence, provided you give the district notice first. You should fill out a claim form within six months of the injury. If you wait too long, then you will not be able to sue.
Suing a private club is different because they are not generally immune from lawsuits. Instead of following administrative procedures, you can proceed directly to court and file your lawsuit.
In either situation, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Greene Broillet & Wheeler right away so they can help you through the situation by properly filing your complaint.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
Suing a school is complicated, especially when sports-related injuries are at issue. To ensure you follow all requirements, work with Greene Broillet & Wheeler. We have extensive experience with these cases.