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ATHLETIC LIABILTY PREVENTION. Tools to Protect Students, Your District, Your Program and Your Career Raymond A. Roberts Loss Control Consultant Washington Schools Risk Management Pool. OBJECTIVES. Review Legal and Social Aspects of Athletics

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Presentation Transcript
athletic liabilty prevention


Tools to Protect Students, Your District, Your Program and Your Career

Raymond A. Roberts

Loss Control Consultant

Washington SchoolsRisk Management Pool

  • Review Legal and Social Aspects of Athletics
  • Overview of Litigation and Claims Process
  • Defensive Coaching and Teaching
  • Coordination with other Departments
  • Equipment and Facilities Exposures.
changes in society
Changes in Society
  • Population Changes
  • Gender Issues in Athletics
  • Budget Stresses
  • Litigation and Claims in Athletics
the five time bombs
The Five “Time Bombs”
  • Equipment & Facilities
  • Failure to Act on Medical Emergencies
  • Supervision & Instruction
  • Failure to Document
  • Failure to Report Criminal Sexual Conduct
liability negligence insurance
Liability, Negligence & Insurance
  • Negligence is “The failure to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful person would use; the doing of some act which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under similar circumstances…”
  • Liability is established through Intentional or Negligent acts that damage a third party by commission or omission.
  • No insurance coverage for intentional or criminal acts!
four elements of negligence
Four Elements of Negligence
  • Duty Owed
  • Duty Breached
  • Proximate Cause
  • Damages Resulting
duties owed to student athletes
Duties Owed to Student Athletes
  • Proper Supervision & Instruction
  • Provide Safe Equipment & Facilities
  • Warn Participants
  • Maintain All Records
duties owed to student athletes continued
Duties Owed to Student Athletes (Continued)
  • Evaluate Fitness of Participants
  • Transport Athletes Safely
  • Match Participants
  • Foresee Danger
  • Provide for Emergency Health Care
court case kirk v washington state university
Court Case Kirk v. Washington State University

Kirk was injured during a cheerleading practice, the squad was practicing shoulder stands and Kirk fell to the Astroturf. She landed with her full weight on her left elbow, shattering three bones in the elbow and injured her ankle. The elbow injury was permanent.

The jury found the defendants negligent for :

Failure to provide adequate training

Failure to provide adequate supervision

Failure to provide adequate coaching

Failure to provide safety padding

Failure to provide a warning regarding the hardness of the surface

Failure to provide adequate literature on safe methods

claims and litigation process
Claims and Litigation Process
  • Report all injuries to AD or building administrator
  • Designate parent contact person
  • Must cooperate with investigation and defense attorney.
  • Depositions
  • Witness testimony at trial
  • Maintain confidentiality-Loose Lips Sink Ships
insurance coverage
Insurance Coverage
  • Course and Scope of Duties.
  • Volunteers must be under supervision of an employee.
  • The District is covered as an entity.
  • Insurance can only apply to negligent acts.
  • If your action is determined to be criminal, willful and / or intentional, you will not be covered
duty to provide safe equipment facilities
Duty to Provide Safe Equipment & Facilities
  • The Recreational Land Use Statute
  • Discover dangerous conditions and make repairs.
  • Document Your Requests for Repairs
facilities recommendations
Facilities Recommendations
  • Regular Documented Inspections.
  • Prompt Repair of Hazardous Conditions.
  • Keep records.
  • Formal Reporting and Repairing Procedures.
facilities recommendations continued
Facilities Recommendations(continued)
  • Coordination between Athletic Department and Maintenance Department
  • Post proper signs and warning.
  • Do not give keys to students!
  • Never allow unsupervised use of facilities
emergency medical assistance do you have a plan
Emergency Medical Assistance….Do You Have a Plan?
  • When in doubt, call 911
  • Current training in first aid/CPR
  • AEDs
  • Adequate first aid supplies.
  • Report injuries.
  • Written Medical clearance prior to return.
  • DO NOT have another student transport the injured athlete.
duty to supervise
Duty to Supervise

Common Problem Areas:

  • Multiple activities at the same time
  • Multiple skill level
  • Locker rooms

If you can’t see them, you’re not supervising them !

duty to stop harassment hazing
Duty to Stop Harassment & Hazing
  • School District policies on sexual & hazing.
  • Hazing is illegal.
  • Take a NO TOLERANCE stance!
  • Document your actions!
scenario i supervision
SCENARIO ISupervision

Junior High wrestling Coach Bob is getting complaints from a parent that his son should not have to wrestle with female wrestlers, even in practice. Since the parent has repeatedly come in during the practices and yells at his son, the female wrestlers and the coaches, Bob asks the parent to stop coming in.

Angry parent comes in anyway. Not wanting to embarrass the wrestler, Coach Bob walks out of the gym with the parent, leaving the team with instructions to work on take downs.

Coach Bob’s Assistant Coach is out ill today.

The wrestlers do as instructed. Unfortunately, the aggressive 130 pound sophomore convinces a reluctant 240 pound senior to go for a round.

Coach Bob comes back in to find the sophomore screaming and his leg weird angle.

supervision scenario discussion questions



duty to instruct
Duty To Instruct
  • Teach the rules of the game.
  • Students must understand and appreciate risk.
  • Demonstrate students understand proper techniques.
  • Documenttraining activities by time, place, subject and method.
  • Enforce safety rules-No Exceptions.
  • Ensure participants have adequate training and physical requirements for the sport.
duty to instruct continued
Duty to Instruct(Continued)
  • Conditioning, nutrition, exercises and drills to prepare the athlete for the vigor and dangers of the sport.
  • Documented Progression of Skills Plan
  • Mechanisms of the head and the neck and techniques for injury prevention.
  • Watch for and prohibit playing with injuries.
  • Return from injury procedures / Medical Doctor’s Release
fitness of athletes insurance
Fitness of Athletes & Insurance
  • Court decisions held that coaches have the duty to acknowledge the athletes’:

Physical Fitness

Medical Condition

Skill Level

  • Require evidence of medical insurance.
  • Provide “no-fault” catastrophic coverage for interscholastic athletic activities.
match competitors
Match Competitors
  • Match player to player and player to activity
  • Coaches must never scrimmage against players
  • Factors for matching competitors:
    • Height and Weight
    • Age and Maturity
    • Skill and Experience
    • Mental State
    • Injury, Fatigue or Incapacity
duty to reasonably foresee
Duty to Reasonably Foresee
  • Must reasonably foresee potential danger.
  • Control over-aggressive behavior.
  • Plan ahead to provide proper equipment and facilities.
duty to warn
Duty to Warn
  • Documented warning to parents and athletes of the inherent risks unique to each individual sport.
  • Obtain signed acknowledgement from parent andathlete.
  • Warn when there are changes in equipment, rules, techniques and strategy.
  • Documenttime, place, subject and method.
      • Forms
      • Meetings
      • Training Plan
document document document
Document, Document, Document

Recommended records to save:

  • Health/Physical exams
  • Parental consent to play
  • Injury and incident forms
  • Return-to play/Doctor’s clearance
  • Warnings of risk and signed receipt
  • Use of alternative transportation
  • Facility and equipment inspection/maintenance
  • Written practice plans
  • Eligibility information
defensive recordkeeping for injured athletes
Defensive Recordkeepingfor Injured Athletes
  • Communicate with School Nurse regarding Individual Health Plans
  • A minor can file a claim or suit up to age 21.
  • Keep all records relating to an athlete who has suffered a significant injury.
  • The district may send injury records to the insurance carrier for safekeeping.
court case hobbs v kent school district
Court Case Hobbs v. Kent School District

During a baseball game, a 15-year old slid head-first into home plate sustaining a neck fracture, which resulted in quadriplegia. Plaintiff claimed defendant negligently failed to provide an ongoing safety program to teach safe sliding techniques and to warn of the dangers of head-first sliding.

Settlement for $2 million

court case ondras v snohomish school district
Court Case Ondras v. Snohomish School District

A 14-year old student suffered quadriplegic injuries during a football tackling drill.

The tackling drill positioned a tackler and a ball carrier 10 to 12 yards apart, run at full speed, straight ahead at each other.

The plaintiff who was the carrier, had never been taught how to carry the ball. Both players were known by coaches as hard hitters.

All players and the coaches watched in anticipation of the hit.

Settlement for $6,250,000

scenario ii instruction
  • Coach Bob is now coaching football. Ben, a returning player, has not turned in his physical form or parent consent form. Bob lets Ben take part in conditioning sessions. He forgot to follow-up and allowed Ben to start contact practice.
  • Sean, also a returning player, has aggression issues and is suspected of steroid use.
  • The coaches encourage aggressive practices and hard hits. During practice Sean hits Ben hard with his head down, leaving Sean unconscious and Ben with probable head, rib and knee injuries.
scenario ii instruction continued
  • 911 is called and both players are transported to the ER.
  • Sean had modified his helmet padding. The coaches did not have a formal plan for inspection of helmets.
  • Ben's father has lost his job and has no insurance.
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
equipment recommendations
Equipment Recommendations
  • Document your actions
  • Properly fit equipment
  • Routine equipment inspection-watch for “customizing
  • Install & repair equipment with qualified personnel only.
  • List & post the rules & warnings for equipment use.
  • Retain all inspection & maintenance records.
  • .
equipment recommendations continued
Equipment Recommendations (Continued)
  • Use District Issued Equipment Only
    • No personal equipment unless there is a documented medical need
  • Clear warnings and consequences for misuse of and alteration of equipment.
  • Never use illegal and/or improper equipment (e.g. corked bat).
  • Destroy old equipment that is not to be reused (e.g. football helmets).
  • School buses are the safest mode of transportation.
  • Vans must have a capacity of ten or under.
  • “Parents will be responsible for transportation” in writing if no district transportation provided.
  • Parent signature if athlete released to them rather than traveling back with team.
  • Never transport students alone in your car!
failure to report
Failure to Report
  • Certified and Classified Employees are Required to Report Criminal Sexual Conduct to Administrators.
  • Administrators Have 48 Hours to Report to Law Enforcement
  • Failure to Due So is a Separate Criminal Offense!
  • Some injuries are preventable, others are not.
  • less time, energy and resources are expended in prevention.
  • If there is a serious incident, you will spend far more time with insurance adjusters and attorneys, in depositions and in court.
  • Coaches are responsible for the supervision of the student athletes and the Volunteers.
  • Think and act defensively…It’s Your Career!
thank you for your participation
Thank Youfor Your Participation!

Raymond A. Roberts, ARM, SCLA, CPSI

Washington Schools Risk Management Pool

P.O. Box 88700, Tukwila, WA 98138

Phone:(206) 394-9719 or (206) 459-8198