Visitor Question

College athlete twisted ankle in fitness test. Was the Coach negligent?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Gaithersburg, Maryland)

During a pre-season fitness test, my son slipped on the turf in his cleats and rolled his ankle. The Coach demanded that he continue running the test on his injured ankle. Coach videotaped the last leg of the test after my son had already told him he rolled his ankle, and he told him to “keep f***ing running”.

Coach then sent him a message to go see the trainer the next day, and he has been ordered not to participate in any team meetings, activities, or workouts until cleared by the trainer.

He saw the team doctor who sent him for X-rays. He’s now in a boot waiting results of the X-ray to see if there is any fracture but there is probable tendon and/or ligament damage, and they’ve scheduled PT with him 3 days a week.

Does he have a claim of negligent care of duty? Coach knew he was hurt and made him run anyway.

Thanks for anything you can tell me.

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.


Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for the excellent question. Your son may have a negligence claim against the coach.  The strength of the claim, though, will depend upon all of the facts that occurred during your son’s fitness test.

Negligence Claims and Your Son’s Case

Coaches have a duty of care to protect players from undue harm.

These same coaches are considered to have acted negligently when they fail to uphold this duty or fail to do what a reasonable coach would have done under the same circumstances.

Ultimately, the issue of negligence is determined by examining all of the facts in a case.

At first glance, the facts of your son’s case may suggest that the coach was negligent. The key details include that the coach knew your son was injured but demanded that he keep running. The statement “keep f***ing running” clearly indicates the coach’s desire for your son not to stop in his test.

It’s hard to determine, though, how strong a negligence claim is without more facts on what happened.

For example, it’s important to know:

  • How serious the coach perceived your son’s injury to be
  • The distance the coach demanded your son to run
  • If the coach was truly demanding something or was actually offering intense encouragement/motivation

These types of facts can either work to strengthen your son’s claim or weaken it.

Maryland and Pure Contributory Negligence

In determining the strength of your son’s claim, it’s helpful to point out that Maryland is one of only a handful of states that applies a pure contributory negligence law.

This law says that if an injured person bears any degree of responsibility for an injury or accident, they’re not entitled to receive any compensation from a negligent party.

In the context of your son’s case, contributory negligence rules would work to negate your son’s claim if he was in any way responsible for causing his injury.

It’s difficult for us to determine whether your son bears any fault for what happened without knowing some more facts.

Important details to consider are:

  • Did your son show a willingness to keep running?
  • Did he realize that he suffered a serious injury?
  • Was he wearing shoes appropriate for the turf that he was running on?

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney for Help

We highly recommend that you contact a local Maryland attorney for help in your case. A skilled lawyer is better suited to take a look at Maryland law to see if there were any cases in the past similar to your son’s.

A case with similar facts that shows a coach’s negligence would help your son’s case tremendously.

If the coach was, in fact, negligent, your son is entitled to compensation for:

  • The medical treatment he received
  • X-ray costs
  • The cost of physical therapy

Further, a local injury lawyer is better skilled to help you get past the hurdle of contributory negligence. It would be difficult for your son to do that on his own.

Learn more here: Can You File a Sports Injury Claim or Lawsuit?

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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