Could bad coaching lead to a lawsuit against your league? If the result is player injury, it can and already has. Yet another suit has been filed against a local sports league and its directors contending that a coach’s negligent instruction caused injury to the player. (Full story here).
The Lakewood (CA) Pop Warner association, its officers and directors, and the players coach were named in a suit filed recently in California Superior Court. The suit alleges that the player’s coaches repeatedly saw him unsafely tackle opponents head-first in both practices and games but did not attempt to correct his technique. The suit also alleges this was taught and that the players were given “repeated and incorrect instruction that Hill and his teammates tackle opposing players by leading with the head, rather than placing the head on the outside of the opposing player, as directed in national Pop Warner rules and coaching materials.”
According the the player’s attorneys “[f]ilm footage of the game shows Hill consistently making tackles with his head down, according to the complaint. At the moment of injury, Hill’s body went limp after making contact with another player while attempting a tackle with his head down. Doctors at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center later determined that Hill suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury, resulting in quadriplegia.”
This suit highlights how coaching education is a necessary part of any risk management plan. When we are delivering services directly to youth participants, it is vital that the person directing and instructing the players be properly trained and aware of the latest safety recommendations. The suit against the directors claims that no protocol existed to make sure the tackling rules and safety protocol were being enforced. Willful blindness will not protect an organization from suit.
One of the frequent objections we here in our presentations is a complete misconception that developing rules will render the organization more liable if they are not later enforced. This suit highlights the point we make: you are far more likely to be sued, and in a far worse position with a jury, if you ignore known risks and choose not to make policies. Enforcement and reporting is a part of every risk management plan, and we help you there too.
See how we can help your organization be proactive and develop player safety policies that are implementable and enforceable. Contact us at 512-487-RISK.