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  1. #1
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    Jul 2009
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    Default School and Coach Did Not Notify of Athletic Injury at Camp

    My question involves injury or loss that occurred in the state of: Georgia

    My daughter suffered a serious ankle sprain with torn ligaments at a cheerleading camp away from home. The injury occurred on the first day of camp and in the evening she let us know that she had fallen and had a sore ankle, and we figured since we hadn't heard anything from anyone in authority that it was minor. My daughter had been told it was minor and she seemed determined to sleep it off and hopefully be better in the morning.

    However, the next night she was still in a lot of pain and sent us a picture message of her ankle (she was not allowed to call us until evening) - it was purple, huge, and obviously still hurting. We still had not heard anything from anyone official. My daughter had been told by the coach to walk around on it to keep it loose. It was late at night and she wanted to go to bed, otherwise we would have picked her up that night.

    The camp was over the next morning and we picked her up and took her to the doctor in the afternoon who determined with MRI that a ligament was badly torn. The doctor said walking on it was the absolute worst idea and may have aggravated the injury.

    I have two questions: Does the school/coach/camp have any liability for not informing us immediately of the injury to our child? Does the coach have any liability for giving such wrong-headed advice?

  2. #2
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    Mar 2008
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    Default Re: School / Coach Did Not Notify of Athletic Injury at Camp

    I don't know what waivers you may have signed when enrolling your child. I don't know your child, and how she communicates.

    My girl, now 12 years of age, does gymnastics, and had been for over 4 years. This year, within the last 3 months, she suffered some injuries, sprained ankle with damaged ligaments. She was hobbling around, and started to complain about the pain.

    It was then my wife decided to have her see some specialist, there were several of them, X-rays, MRI's done, and she was in a cast for about 4 weeks. It's not a permanent one, but one she can take off at home.

    I said before I don't know how your child communicates. My girl is one of those "no big deal" types, so it's hard to tell if she's in excruciating pain, as compared to other girls in the class just suffering "regular" pain, from doing regular practice. She won't be screaming to the coach "call my ma nowwwww!!". I know in that class, if the coach has to stop the session, call a parent up every time a girl in the class suffers pain, that's all she'll be doing all night.

    And I can't see how any business can be in the business of "gymnastics", or "cheering leading", if anything happens, the business is liable. If that is in fact the law, gymnastics and cheer leading would be so prohibitively expensive that no one can afford it because of the insurance.

    In fact, she's back to practice these last 2 weeks, my wife goes in half an hour early picking her up to watch her practice. I heard them discussing it last night, with my wife telling her when she does the jumps, she lands too hard, and not straight, twising it a bit, and aggravating the ankle that is on the mend. So this week, she's in practice Monday, but would be out the rest of the week.

    My wife spoke to the coach, and the coach had spoken to my girl about how she lands. But my girl had still not gotten the hang of it. You tell me, is the coach liable, and are we going to hold the coach liable because my girl injures her ankle?? Under your theory, the coach is liable for letting her continue to practice, but without paractice, she'll never going to "land" right.

    My answers to your questions is that YOU have assumed some liabilities when you allow your girl to do cheerleading, as we assumed in having our girl do gymnastics. Your girl should be trained to INSIST that you be called immediately if she is in extreme pain. This is not even to mention waivers that you may be signed.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2009
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    3

    Default Re: School / Coach Did Not Notify of Athletic Injury at Camp

    I appreciate your reply. Thank you! I did indeed sign waivers that include statements about recognizing the possibility of injury, and I certainly do.

    But I think you miss my point. I understand that injuries do happen, and I understand that I have indemnified the liabilities (at least most of them), but I don't think it should matter how old my daughter is or how she handles pain. Instead, I believe that a school or coach should be required to inform a parent when an injury removes the child from participation for over two days of a camp or field trip. The very fact that the child is a minor, and the coaches/staff do not know how she communicates pain, and the fact that parents are not present, should require a call. If not by law, at least by common sense.

    But my question is whether the law requires the parental contact. My second question was if there was any liability for poor advice that may have exacerbated her injury.

    You didn't answer either of these questions, but I do appreciate your advice to tell my daughter to require coaches or staff to call. I will definitely do that. Thank you!

  4. #4
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    Mar 2008
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    Default Re: School / Coach Did Not Notify of Athletic Injury at Camp

    Quote Quoting Feeze
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    But my question is whether the law requires the parental contact. My second question was if there was any liability for poor advice that may have exacerbated her injury.

    You didn't answer either of these questions, but I do appreciate your advice to tell my daughter to require coaches or staff to call. I will definitely do that. Thank you!
    When my daughter was injured, , no, the coach didn't call, and as far as I can determine, no obligation to. My daughter only told her that the ankle hurts, and she needs to sit down a while. How is the coach going to interpret that as an indication that her parents must be called . My daugher called to us herself to say that we can come by to pick her up earlier, even then, with no indication at all of the injury's severity.

    I beleive there could an opposite problem if coaches call TOO MUCH.

    My younger daughter was rubbing her eyes too much one morning, and we checked her out before bringing her to school. She said it was itchy, but later on in the morning she said she felt fine.

    She was sent down to the school nurse, and in the middle of the day, the school called, demanded we take her home, get a doctors note, before allowed back in. I had to take off from work to take her out, scheduled for a doctors apointment late the next day, and returned the day after. The doctor also determine it was just an itchy eye that she rubbed two much, but in the meantime, two days of work and two days of school was lost.

    If the coach in my older girls gym called the parents everytime some girls foot hurts, they'll be tons of missed work days and missed gym days. Our understanding is ankles will hurt after grueling workouts, and it's awfully difficult for a coach to diagnose a torn ligaments everytime an ankle hurts, and send the girl home..

    In speaking with other parents with girls taking gymnastics, aching feet and ankles is part of the regimen, and coaches cannot call everytime there's a complaint of aches and pains.

    Now, if you have a private agreement with the coach that he/she or your daughter call you everytime her ankles hurt, take her home, I suppose you can do that.

    I speaking as someone whose girl just had torn ligaments, still had problems with it this week, and I don't see how her coach can determine a case of serious torn ligaments when my girl just tells her her ankle hurts, and needs to sit down. Put yourself in the coach's place and see if it makes sense.

  5. #5
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: School / Coach Did Not Notify of Athletic Injury at Camp

    In terms of liability, the first issue is whether or not this is a private venture or something through a public school system (or equivalent), due to governmental immunity issues. Although either way I expect you signed a waiver relieving the camp of liability for ordinary negligence, and I can't see this as anything more than ordinary negligence.

    Second, the question must be asked, how did the coach's actions change the outcome? If your daughter is making a 100% recovery, but suffered an extra day or so of discomfort, that's something perhaps to complain about to the camp's management but I don't see any appreciable claim for monetary damages.

    Third, the question is raised, why didn't your daughter make more of an issue of her ankle? Either to the coach at the time, by phone that evening when she spoke to you, or to anybody else - the coach, the camp nurse, a camp counselor - the next day? If you, her parents who know her, couldn't tell from her statements how badly she was injured, what makes you think that she told the coach more - and if she told you the same thing she told her coach, what makes you believe that the coach would be better able than you to see through her game face and figure out how much it hurt?

    I can respect your wish to be informed any time your child has an injury. May I suggest you make that clear to camps, and also to your child, as that will make it more likely that you will be fully informed in the future.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2009
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    Default Re: School and Coach Did Not Notify of Athletic Injury at Camp

    From a legal and injury standpoint, you have no civil case of any significance.

    However, from any other standpoint, that camp is clueless. A cheerleading camp, gymnastics, and other things are an accident waiting to happen.

    They should have well thought out policies and procedures to follow if someone gets injured, especially a minor. They should have some procedure to obtain professional medical assistance. They are total morons to take the word of a minor as to the extent of the minor's injuries. As recent history has proven, someone could have a minor head injury and think it is nothing serious and be dead hours later. No coach or unqualified person should make medical judgments. A parent should be notified of any injury and the parents wishes should be taken into consideration. No camp should rely upon the minor notifying the parents or determining the need for medical assistance.

    The management of this camp has just been very lucky. They are on the edge of a cliff waiting for something serious to happen and have all of their stupid butts sued into the ground..

  7. #7
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    Jul 2009
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    3

    Default Re: School / Coach Did Not Notify of Athletic Injury at Camp

    Great answer and I appreciate your input.

    This was a public school cheerleading squad away at a cheer camp.

    My only response is that we (my daughter and her parents) are brand-new to this - athletic injuries, sports camps, etc. So, as well as we know our daughter, this was a new situation, and we were all not sure how to react, what to say, etc. My daughter is a 14-year-old girl who respects authority and aims to please it, so, while she is honest, she can also stifle emotion and pain not to cause alarm or disturbance. Yes, we know this about her, but she's good at it. It's hard to tell over the phone, across the miles, especially when it's an entirely new situation.

    In this case, yes, everything will be okay in the near future - for which I am glad. So, no, I don't intend to pursue anything legally, never did. But I'm just trying to understand what the school's obligations are under the law. It appears there aren't any. I'm not looking for compensation or liability - as a parent, I just want a phone call that my daughter was hurt severely enough that it removed her from play. If the law doesn't require that in this case, well, it should. But, in any case, I will make it clear, as you wisely suggested, that it is what I expect in the future. Thanks again!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Default Re: School and Coach Did Not Notify of Athletic Injury at Camp

    Good luck to you.

    If your girl is going back any time soon to doing any cheerleading, make sure there is ample cooperation between you guys, the doctor and the coach.

    My girl who's in gymnastics, was treated for her ankle injuries, went back with a doctors note several weeks ago, putting the coach on notice. My girl told us her ankkes are hurting again this week, so she's getting an MRI today, and depending on the results, the coach will be getting another doctor's note.

    In fact, we asked her about the ankles, she didn't exactly volunteer the information.

    My girl loves to do leaps, but that's put on hold pending the doctor's evaluation. From our experience, you would have to be very involved yourselves to prevent further injuries.

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