Severe concussion in football game due to late helmet to helmet hit...
(Oklahoma City, OK)
My son had thrown the pass and the ref had whistled the play complete. Two opposing players then hit him after that, bent over and heads bent down to make it a helmet to helmet hit. Two refs witnessed this but nothing was called. My son was knocked out and when he regained consciousness he felt tingly below the chin.
He had to be transported by ambulance to the hospital where a CT scan and x-rays were taken. They showed no breaks and no bleeding, just some swelling. He is now out the rest of the season, has memory loss and headaches.
The same boys who did this to my son then tried it again later in the game, but the boy they hit was taller so they only hit his shoulders. Again, nothing was said. I want to do something to prevent this from happening again. The next child might not be as lucky as my son.
What can I do? Is there a way to stop this behavior? Are the boys parents' responsible for my son's medical bills and treatment? I appreciate any information you can provide.
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ANSWER for "Severe concussion in football game due to late helmet to helmet hit...":
Mirllene (Oklahoma City, OK):
This is a difficult question to answer. In most cases when a "late hit" occurs, a referee will throw a flag and penalize the team whose player(s) threw the late hit. Moreover, if the referee believes the late hit was purposeful, and with an intent to injure the quarterback, the team can be penalized and the players ejected from the game.
If this were the case in your son's injury, then you, on behalf of your son may have a viable personal injury claim against the school whose team was composed of the players who threw the late hit.
Unfortunately, the referee in your son's game failed to throw a flag and penalize the team or the players. As a result, you and your son would be held back under the legal doctrine of "assumption of the risk."
Assumption of the risk in high school sports means a parent who agrees to let his or her son (or daughter) participate in a contact sport understands the possibility of injury exists. Knowing injuries are a part of the game, a parent who agrees to let his or her child participate assumes the risk of injury.
In this case, under the facts you present, you might be barred from recovering reimbursement for your son's medical bills.
However, all is not lost. You may be able to overcome the legal doctrine of assumption of the risk if you can show by a "preponderance of evidence" that the late hit was the proximate cause of your son's injury.
To find evidence necessary to support an injury claim, ask to see the video of the game. In most cases, coaches keep videos of games to review with players. If after looking at the video, the late hit is obvious, you may have enough evidence to support an injury claim.
There is in place a rule governing players who make unnecessary or excessive contact with other players during football games. Under Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) Rule 9-4-3-g:
"...no player shall make contact against an opponent that is unnecessary and/or excessive"
You should also read this clarification of excessive contact.
Take the video to several personal injury attorneys. Most will not charge for an initial office consultation. After reviewing the video you may find one or more attorneys who will accept the case on a contingency fee basis. This means you won't have to pay any legal fees until, and unless the attorney succeeds in settling the case, or winning it at trial.
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,
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