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Presentation on theme: "ATHLETIC LIABILTY PREVENTION"— Presentation transcript:

Tools to Protect Students, Your District, Your Program and Your Career Raymond A. Roberts Loss Control Consultant Washington Schools Risk Management Pool

2 OBJECTIVES Review Legal and Social Aspects of Athletics
Overview of Litigation and Claims Process Defensive Coaching and Teaching Coordination with other Departments Equipment and Facilities Exposures.

3 Changes in Society Population Changes Gender Issues in Athletics
Budget Stresses Litigation and Claims in Athletics

4 The Five “Time Bombs” Equipment & Facilities
Failure to Act on Medical Emergencies Supervision & Instruction Failure to Document Failure to Report Criminal Sexual Conduct

5 Liability, Negligence & Insurance
Negligence is “The failure to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful person would use; the doing of some act which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under similar circumstances…” Liability is established through Intentional or Negligent acts that damage a third party by commission or omission. No insurance coverage for intentional or criminal acts!

6 Four Elements of Negligence
Duty Owed Duty Breached Proximate Cause Damages Resulting

7 Duties Owed to Student Athletes
Proper Supervision & Instruction Provide Safe Equipment & Facilities Warn Participants Maintain All Records

8 Duties Owed to Student Athletes (Continued)
Evaluate Fitness of Participants Transport Athletes Safely Match Participants Foresee Danger Provide for Emergency Health Care

9 Court Case Kirk v. Washington State University
Kirk was injured during a cheerleading practice, the squad was practicing shoulder stands and Kirk fell to the Astroturf. She landed with her full weight on her left elbow, shattering three bones in the elbow and injured her ankle. The elbow injury was permanent. The jury found the defendants negligent for : Failure to provide adequate training Failure to provide adequate supervision Failure to provide adequate coaching Failure to provide safety padding Failure to provide a warning regarding the hardness of the surface Failure to provide adequate literature on safe methods COMPETITVE CHEERING / SPIRIT IS BECOMING FOCUS OF PLAINTIFF ATTORNIES AND THERE ARE NEW RULES-CHECK WIAA AND OTHERS, ADD TO

10 Claims and Litigation Process
Report all injuries to AD or building administrator Designate parent contact person Must cooperate with investigation and defense attorney. Depositions Witness testimony at trial Maintain confidentiality-Loose Lips Sink Ships

11 Insurance Coverage Course and Scope of Duties.
Volunteers must be under supervision of an employee. The District is covered as an entity. Insurance can only apply to negligent acts. If your action is determined to be criminal, willful and / or intentional, you will not be covered Omission and commission issues EME coverage THIS criminal issues includes failure to report suspected sexual abuse within 48 hours.

12 Duty to Provide Safe Equipment & Facilities
The Recreational Land Use Statute Discover dangerous conditions and make repairs. Document Your Requests for Repairs

13 Explain This to a Parent

14 Facilities Recommendations
Regular Documented Inspections. Prompt Repair of Hazardous Conditions. Keep records. Formal Reporting and Repairing Procedures. 2 instances of spikes in field- football and long jump

15 Facilities Recommendations (continued)
Coordination between Athletic Department and Maintenance Department Post proper signs and warning. Do not give keys to students! Never allow unsupervised use of facilities

16 Emergency Medical Assistance…. Do You Have a Plan?
When in doubt, call 911 Current training in first aid/CPR AEDs Adequate first aid supplies. Report injuries. Written Medical clearance prior to return. DO NOT have another student transport the injured athlete. Eme coverage

17 Duty to Supervise Common Problem Areas:
If you can’t see them, you’re not supervising them ! Common Problem Areas: Multiple activities at the same time Multiple skill level Locker rooms CANNOT BE IN 2 PLACES AT ONCE

18 Duty to Stop Harassment & Hazing
School District policies on sexual & hazing. Hazing is illegal. Take a NO TOLERANCE stance! Document your actions!

19 SCENARIO I Supervision
Junior High wrestling Coach Bob is getting complaints from a parent that his son should not have to wrestle with female wrestlers, even in practice. Since the parent has repeatedly come in during the practices and yells at his son, the female wrestlers and the coaches, Bob asks the parent to stop coming in. Angry parent comes in anyway. Not wanting to embarrass the wrestler, Coach Bob walks out of the gym with the parent, leaving the team with instructions to work on take downs. Coach Bob’s Assistant Coach is out ill today. The wrestlers do as instructed. Unfortunately, the aggressive 130 pound sophomore convinces a reluctant 240 pound senior to go for a round. Coach Bob comes back in to find the sophomore screaming and his leg weird angle.


21 Duty To Instruct Teach the rules of the game.
Students must understand and appreciate risk. Demonstrate students understand proper techniques. Document training activities by time, place, subject and method. Enforce safety rules-No Exceptions. Ensure participants have adequate training and physical requirements for the sport.

22 Duty to Instruct (Continued)
Conditioning, nutrition, exercises and drills to prepare the athlete for the vigor and dangers of the sport. Documented Progression of Skills Plan Mechanisms of the head and the neck and techniques for injury prevention. Watch for and prohibit playing with injuries. Return from injury procedures / Medical Doctor’s Release

23 Fitness of Athletes & Insurance
Court decisions held that coaches have the duty to acknowledge the athletes’: Physical Fitness Medical Condition Skill Level Require evidence of medical insurance. Provide “no-fault” catastrophic coverage for interscholastic athletic activities.

24 Match Competitors Match player to player and player to activity
Coaches must never scrimmage against players Factors for matching competitors: Height and Weight Age and Maturity Skill and Experience Mental State Injury, Fatigue or Incapacity

25 Duty to Reasonably Foresee
Must reasonably foresee potential danger. Control over-aggressive behavior. Plan ahead to provide proper equipment and facilities.

26 Duty to Warn Documented warning to parents and athletes of the inherent risks unique to each individual sport. Obtain signed acknowledgement from parent and athlete. Warn when there are changes in equipment, rules, techniques and strategy. Document time, place, subject and method. Forms Meetings Training Plan

27 Document, Document, Document
Recommended records to save: Health/Physical exams Parental consent to play Injury and incident forms Return-to play/Doctor’s clearance Warnings of risk and signed receipt Use of alternative transportation Facility and equipment inspection/maintenance Written practice plans Eligibility information

28 Defensive Recordkeeping for Injured Athletes
Communicate with School Nurse regarding Individual Health Plans A minor can file a claim or suit up to age 21. Keep all records relating to an athlete who has suffered a significant injury. The district may send injury records to the insurance carrier for safekeeping.

29 Court Case Hobbs v. Kent School District
During a baseball game, a 15-year old slid head-first into home plate sustaining a neck fracture, which resulted in quadriplegia. Plaintiff claimed defendant negligently failed to provide an ongoing safety program to teach safe sliding techniques and to warn of the dangers of head-first sliding. Settlement for $2 million

30 Court Case Ondras v. Snohomish School District
A 14-year old student suffered quadriplegic injuries during a football tackling drill. The tackling drill positioned a tackler and a ball carrier 10 to 12 yards apart, run at full speed, straight ahead at each other. The plaintiff who was the carrier, had never been taught how to carry the ball. Both players were known by coaches as hard hitters. All players and the coaches watched in anticipation of the hit. Settlement for $6,250,000

Coach Bob is now coaching football. Ben, a returning player, has not turned in his physical form or parent consent form. Bob lets Ben take part in conditioning sessions. He forgot to follow-up and allowed Ben to start contact practice. Sean, also a returning player, has aggression issues and is suspected of steroid use. The coaches encourage aggressive practices and hard hits. During practice Sean hits Ben hard with his head down, leaving Sean unconscious and Ben with probable head, rib and knee injuries.

911 is called and both players are transported to the ER. Sean had modified his helmet padding. The coaches did not have a formal plan for inspection of helmets. Ben's father has lost his job and has no insurance.


34 Equipment Recommendations
Document your actions Properly fit equipment Routine equipment inspection-watch for “customizing Install & repair equipment with qualified personnel only. List & post the rules & warnings for equipment use. Retain all inspection & maintenance records. . Include spring article and football maintenance articles

35 Equipment Recommendations (Continued)
Use District Issued Equipment Only No personal equipment unless there is a documented medical need Clear warnings and consequences for misuse of and alteration of equipment. Never use illegal and/or improper equipment (e.g. corked bat). Destroy old equipment that is not to be reused (e.g. football helmets).

36 Transportation School buses are the safest mode of transportation.
Vans must have a capacity of ten or under. “Parents will be responsible for transportation” in writing if no district transportation provided. Parent signature if athlete released to them rather than traveling back with team. Never transport students alone in your car!

37 Failure to Report Certified and Classified Employees are Required to Report Criminal Sexual Conduct to Administrators. Administrators Have 48 Hours to Report to Law Enforcement Failure to Due So is a Separate Criminal Offense! See MANDATORY REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

38 SUMMARY Some injuries are preventable, others are not.
less time, energy and resources are expended in prevention. If there is a serious incident, you will spend far more time with insurance adjusters and attorneys, in depositions and in court. Coaches are responsible for the supervision of the student athletes and the Volunteers. Think and act defensively…It’s Your Career!

39 Thank You for Your Participation!
Raymond A. Roberts, ARM, SCLA, CPSI Washington Schools Risk Management Pool P.O. Box 88700, Tukwila, WA Phone:(206) or (206)


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