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Your child's head injury and the coach's liability

If your child sustains a concussion while playing a contact sport, he or she may not want to sit on the sidelines for the rest of the game. The coach may not be too happy about it, either. However, with all the media attention that traumatic brain injuries have received, you may rightfully expect your child not to endure a second, potentially more serious blow to the head.

Can you hold a coach liable if he or she puts your child back on the field in spite of definite signs of concussion? It may depend on when the injury happened.

The statute of limitations

When you sustain an injury because of someone else's negligence, the California statute of limitations gives you two years after the injury occurs, or one year after you discover the injury, to file a lawsuit. However, in your child's case, the clock does not begin to tick until he or she turns 18, even if the accident happened several years before.

This fact is critical when dealing with a TBI. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, your child could sustain serious developmental issues that will not arise until he or she reaches that milestone. Then, the "neurocognitive stall" becomes obvious, and your child may need to see a specialist for treatment.

New concussion protections

Your coach may not intend to put your child in harm's way, but the coach may not have recognized the signs of a concussion. That is not an excuse, as the state requires coaching staff to participate in head injury education. However, if the injury happened before the new mandate, there could be a problem, if a federal appeals court ruling is any indication. 

The TBI in question occurred in Pennsylvania in 2011. In that case, the panel of appellate judges determined that the parents could not hold the coach liable. The court held that at the time of the injury, there was no legal precedent stating that high school football players had a constitutional right to be free from exposure to a TBI after exhibiting signs of a concussion. 

Circumstances surrounding your child's injury are unique, and many factors may determine liability. Therefore, this information should not replace the advice of an attorney.

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Law Offices of Mark A. Thiel
3439 Brookside Rd., Suite 205
Stockton, CA 95219

Phone: 209-390-4601
Fax: 209-475-4951
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