Liability for son's head injury during a varsity basketball game?

by A
(North Carolina)

My son was elbowed by another student during a varsity basketball game, causing a head injury. He was taken to the ER by the an assistant coach. We were told shortly after that the school would pay up to $2000, and not to worry. This happened in December.

We were notified around February that it would be best if we filed the paperwork to their insurance, since we had all of the bills, so I did. The insurance lost half the paperwork, so I resent it via email.

Finally, in August they received everything and we were notified by the insurance, they were paying $150 out of almost $1800 worth of bills...a little frustrating. We were then contacted by the Board of Education. Nothing of the $2000 was mentioned, and they mentioned there was a $150 limit...leaving the undertone, without directly saying it, that they are not responsible for the bills.

This has been very aggravating, as we have been given wrong information by the principal, and by the fact we have been given the run around. They make enough off of one game to almost pay for his injuries. Do I have any recourse? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Liability for son's head injury during a varsity basketball game?":

A (North Carolina):

Today, many high schools have parents sign release forms for injuries sustained by their children while playing sports. If you signed such a release, you may be precluded from filing a lawsuit against the school.

As a result, the school may maintain a legitimate legal position upon which to deny paying any more money than the $150 it has already offered.

Additionally, when a parent agrees to let his or her son or daughter play high school sports, the parent "assumes the risk" associated with the respective sport. Most sports result in injures to the participants at some point or another. Injuries can range from minor sprains and strains, to the more serious head trauma, fractures, and the like.

To have a valid claim, which circumvents the legal theory of assumption of the risk, you would have to prove the coach, assistant coach, or other school employee involved in the supervision of the basketball game, was grossly negligent, reckless, or displayed a wonton disregard for the safety and well-being of your son.

From the facts you present, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Finally, you can pursue a claim against the parents of the child who injured your son. If you can prove the child acted purposely and maliciously, with a clear intent to injure your child, you may succeed in your claim against the parents. In many cases, such injuries are covered under the parents' homeowners policy.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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