Determining Liability in Maryland Sports Injury Cases

Each year, there are thousands of Maryland sports injuries, ranging from the relatively minor to the life-threatening. For the most part, when someone decides to take up a sport, they should know that certain risks are inherent in the sport. However, at the same time, participants should also be able to expect that the league that organizes the sport has created a set of rules that protects the players from unnecessary risks that are not inherent to the sport.

In a recent case issued by a federal appellate court, the court discussed a plaintiff’s claim that was brought against a youth water polo league. The plaintiff claimed that the league’s lack of rules regarding concussion-management and when an injured player should return to play resulted in her daughter’s serious post-concussion syndrome.

The Facts

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was the mother of a student who suffered severe post-concussion syndrome after competing in a three-day water polo tournament put on by the defendant organizers. Evidently, the plaintiff’s daughter was a goalie and, during the first day of play, was struck in the head with the ball. The plaintiff’ daughter was “dazed” as a result of the injury, and swam poolside to talk to her coach. Having no experience or training on concussion-management for young athletes, the coach allowed the girl to continue playing. Throughout the remainder of the tournament, the girl was struck in the head several more times.

A few days after the competition, the girl began to suffer from debilitating headaches, extreme fatigue, and had trouble sleeping. The symptoms worsened to the point where her academic performance slipped; eventually, she was removed from public school.

The plaintiff claimed that the league was responsible for her daughter’s injuries because the league did not implement sufficient rules to ensure that the sport was safe for young athletes. The league argued that the plaintiff’s daughter knew of the risks involved in playing water polo and voluntarily assumed those risks.

The court agreed with the plaintiff and permitted her case to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations. In so holding, the court defined the risk involved in this case as the risk of a “secondary concussion,” which is a concussion that occurs shortly after an initial concussion. Here, the court noted that the league failed to provide concussion-management training to coaches and failed to implement a return-to-play protocol. This, the court held, exposed the plaintiff to additional risk of experiencing a subsequent concussion, which was not a risk that was inherent to the sport of water polo. The court also noted that the league was aware of the number of injuries and, notwithstanding that knowledge, failed to take corrective action.

Have You Experienced a Maryland Sports Injury?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while participating in a Maryland sporting event or activity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While not all risks can be eliminated, league organizers have a duty to provide a safe experience for players. The dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience handling all types of Maryland sports injury cases, including those involving children and school sporting events. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Maintenance Worker Permitted to Proceed with Claim Against Property Owner in Recent Premises Liability Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 10, 2018.

Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice Case Dismissed for Failure to Provide Sworn Expert Testimony, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 23, 2018.

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