Visitor Question

Can we sue for a misdiagnosed high school sports injury?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Rocky Mount, North Carolina)

My daughter was playing in a soccer tournament and collided with a player on the opposing team. She said she heard and felt something snap, so I took her to the hospital.

The doctor said she broke her left clavicle and that she might need surgery. He was concerned because the break was near her heart arteries, so they sent her to Greenville which is more than 40 miles away. They said we had no choice, she had to go.

When we got there, they put her in the MRI scan and ended up saying she wouldn’t need surgery after all. So they sent us home and all she needed to use was a sling.

Would we be able to sue them? What are our options?  Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

We live in a litigious society, where for the slightest of reasons, someone wants to sue someone else, especially if they think doing so will result in a windfall of cash.

If you’re asking about suing the doctor who sent your child for further diagnosis and treatment, the case would likely be dismissed, or more likely, you’d never find an attorney to represent you. The doctor was simply making sure your daughter got the most thorough treatment for her injury. The fact he thought the injury may have been worse than it was does not give you a cause of action to file a lawsuit.

If you’re asking about suing the school or other players for causing the injury, you also likely have no case. Your daughter was playing an organized sport when she sustained a broken collarbone. It is a relatively minor injury and often happens in sports.

Can you imagine if every time an athlete (young or old) playing an organized sport were able to sue another other athlete, or coach, or the school district, or anyone else sponsoring a sporting event, for an injury received while participating in the event? The legal system would be overwhelmed and it would quickly end all organized sports.

There is a legal doctrine referred to as “Assumption of the Risk.” In the case of sports, the doctrine basically says when you participate in a sport, or agree to allow your child to participate in a sport, you are barred from suing anyone over injuries received while engaged in the sport.

There is an exception. To circumvent the Assumption of Risk doctrine, an athlete, or in the case of a minor, the athlete’s parent, may pursue another athlete, coach, school district, or sponsor of the sports event, if the athlete is able to show the injury was caused by the gross negligence or willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the athlete.

Based on the facts you present, there is no evidence of gross negligence or a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the athlete.

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

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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