Personal Injury Lawyer | Sports Injuries
From grade school to high school, millions of children and teenagers play sports and engage in other competitive activities. And each year millions of them are treated for sports-related injuries. For the most part, the injuries are sprains and strains, like twisted ankles and over-extended knees. However, sometimes the injuries are much more serious. For example, Patty Phommanyvong, a high school cheerleader, suffered injuries that have left her confined to be nursing home bed.
Of course, the health issue is most important. As a parent, the first question you have is, “Is my child OK?” You want and need to make sure that your child gets the best medical care possible, and in the best case scenario, is able to resume play and normal life activities. But when it comes to sports injuries, the second question almost has to be, “Who pays the bills?”
Personal Injury Lawyer |Injuries and Statistics
Patty Phommanyvong was performing a cheerleading stunt at a high school football game when she was hurt. As part of the stunt, she was thrown into the air and caught by other cheerleaders. But, almost immediately after she came down, she went limp. Her heart stopped beating, and she suffered severe brain damage.
No one knows what happened exactly, but doctors think that she may have been hit in the chest as she came down. Patty’s now a quadriplegic. She’s confined to bed in a nursing home. She can’t eat or speak; she communicates by blinking her eyes.
It can’t be said that sports- and competition-related injuries like Patty’s are “common.” In fact they’re quite rare, considering how many kids are playing sports. The number of injuries is a bit frightening, though.
According to the latest statistics gathered by Safe Kids USA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
Each year, more than 3.5 million children ages 14 years and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries. More than 30 million children participate in sports each year
62% of organized sports-related injuries happen during practice rather than during games
Collision and contact sports, like football and rugby, have higher injury rates, but injuries from individual sports, such as gymnastics and swimming, are usually more severe
About 33% of parents don’t take the same safety precautions during their child’s practice as they do for a game, and there are statistics showing that schools and coaches take practices less seriously than games when it comes to injuries
Paying the Bills
Generally, if you have health and medical insurance, your child’s care and treatment is covered. However, with the costs of health insurance on the rise constantly, deductibles you may have to pay, and perhaps limited or no coverage for some treatments and “out-of-network” professionals, you still may feel a financial strain. Patty Phommanyvong’s family is in that situation. Insurance is helping, but they’re still “struggling,” her father reports.
The school or organization may carry insurance, too. This may help defray some costs if you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover all of the bills.
Sometimes parents sue the school district or athletic association, claiming that they were negligent for things like not having the proper safety equipment emergency medical care on hand at the time of the injury. If you’re successful in this type of suit, the school or club may have to pay your child’s medical bills, as well as other money “damages” for things like pain and suffering.
If you’re child is playing sports or competing in something right now, or if she’s thinking about tying it, you should:
- Find out the injury statistics for the sport. Check with Safe Kids USA, the AAP, your family doctor, and your child’s coach for more information
- Ask your insurance agent if sports-related activities are covered by your medical and health insurance, and ask specifically if your child’s sport is covered. For instance, in some states cheerleading isn’t a “sport,” so it may not be covered by insurance companies in those states
- Ask the officials at the school district or athletic association if they carry insurance that will pay if your child is injured
- Make sure your child has the proper safety equipment and gear. If it’s not provided by the school or club, buy it for her. And make she uses it at games and practice!
- Ask if the coaches and staff are trained in emergency first aid and CPR
Patty’s father has said that if he’d known of the injury statistics for cheerleading he probably wouldn’t have let Patty participate. Take a cue from him. If you prepare yourself with the facts and ask the right questions, you and your child may enjoy sports and competition for many years, and without serious injury.