Can a Youth Sports Coach be Held Liable for the Injuries of a Youth Athlete?

Sports Soccer Ball on White Background Throughout the State of Florida and the United States, children participate in youth sports. Literally millions of children on any given day participate in a practice, drill, or youth sports game. Whether it is football, basketball, soccer, track and field, volleyball, or other sport, children are out in the community getting exercise, interacting with friends, and hopefully getting some valuable life lessons.

When a child is injured while participating in a youth sports activity, there is often a question posed to me as a Florida Child Injury Lawyer as follows:

Can a coach or youth sporting organization be held liable for injuries sustained by a child while participating in the sport?

Like many questions posted to me, the answer to the question depends on the injury and the facts and circumstances of the potential legal claim or case. It should be noted that a coach or youth sports organization is not automatically liable for injuries because there are inherent risk with most sports related activities.

Here is one example. Let's say a 10 year old soccer player is running to get a ball and twists his ankle resulting in a sprained ankle. There should not be any liability for such an injury without any facts to support the coach did something careless to cause or contribute to the injury.

Here is another example. Let's say a coach pushes a nine-year-old beyond exhaustion to continue to do laps and other cardio intense exercises to the point that the child suffers respiratory distress and heart failure resulting in the young athlete's death. Under these circumstances, it could be argued that there is a legal cause of action against the coach and youth supporting organization for the poor judgment and excessive training measures.

Does a child have to die for there to be a legal cause or action of claim against the coach or youth sporting organization? The simple answer is No. The above examples are just two examples of personal injuries that take place during youth sports related activities. Like other type of negligence cases, there are four elements to prove to maintain a case against a sports coach and youth sports organization:

  1. Duty;
  2. Breach of Duty;
  3. Causation; and
  4. Damages

In baseball, a player is an All Star if the player can bat 300 or higher. In other words, if a player get a hit 1 out of every 3 times at bat, that player is truly a great player. Unlike baseball, all of the elements above must be met for there to be a viable negligence case. In other words, the Child Injury Lawyer handling the case needs to be able to bat 4 for 4 or 1000 for there to be a viable case to pursue.

If a child is injured during a sports related activity, a parent can consult with a Florida Child Injury Lawyer at no charge for the initial consultation. Furthermore, if the case is accepted for representation, it is usually accepted on a contingency basis (i.e. no recovery - no attorney fees).

The book - The ABCs of Child Injury - Legal Rights of the Injured Child - What Every Parent Should Know - has chapters on Sports Related Injuries, School Injuries, Day Care Center Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.