Research Paper: Legal Issues That Follow Sports Injuries

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Sports Injuries

Legal Issues in Sports Injuries


In the context of sports injury, especially in competitive team contact sports, mere negligence is not sufficient to warrant legal liability (Sawyer 1997). Courts have recognized that in the course of enthusiastic play, inadvertent rule violations and other cases of negligence are bound to occur, and that the expectation of such negligence is a part of the assumption of risk each voluntary participant in the sport takes on (Lazaroff 1990). Instead of using a simple negligence test for liability, a reckless action or intentional action standard has been adopted by most jurisdictions as the test for liability in sports injuries that arise out of competitive play (Sawyer 1997). This has different implications for different types of injuries, and is not always applicable to the situations that might bring about injury.

Heat stress injuries, for example, are relatively common especially among amateur athletics/sports participants, but a coach/manager cannot be held liable for such injuries even if certain circumstances -- the provision of water or shade, for example -- were expected on the part of the participants. Though negligence may exist, no reckless or intentional action was taken in this example. Spinal injuries, concussions, and other injuries arising out of contact between players must meet this same test of recklessness or intentional action in order for the injured part to hold the other(s) involved in the contact legally responsible for injuries and damages. These injuries can arise out of intentional, reckless, merely negligent, or even entirely blameless accidents, and must be examined case-by-case.


The concept of negligence in sports injuries is highly related to the concept of duty. Just as mere negligence does not create legal liability, there is no real duty on the part of any sports participant to protect the other participants(s) from the inherent risks of the sport (Abramson et al. 2010). Again, the assumed risks of the other participants relieves the duty of the other participants to exercise even an ordinary duty of care in protecting the other participants, so long as all actions and behaviors are within normal parameters of the sport -- which includes many instances of rule breaking and other technical violations of the sport's generally accepted mode of play that occur due to simple negligence during the enthusiastic participation in the sport rather than the reckless or intentional actions of the potential defendant (Sawyer 1997; Abramson et al. 2010).

Again, in the case of heat exhaustion or heat stoke, there is no incumbent legal duty on any of the other players, coaches, managers, etc. To ensure that any other participant avoids such injury, as this injury can only be brought about by the injured party's own actions. Injuries as sever as spinal cord columns and concussions might in many instances be evidence of a breach of duty, depending on the sport being played and the specific circumstances of an individual incident, but it is impossible to assign duty generally in regards to these injuries. Duty only exists when actions or behaviors extend beyond the realm of enthusiastic game play and into recklessness and intentional breach (Abramson et al. 2010).


The inapplicability of mere negligence as grounds for legal liability in sports injury situations, and the lack of duty to exercise even ordinary care during the enthusiastic play of a sport, does not mean that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Research Paper:

APA Format

Legal Issues That Follow Sports Injuries.  (2010, April 26).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Legal Issues That Follow Sports Injuries."  26 April 2010.  Web.  22 July 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Legal Issues That Follow Sports Injuries."  April 26, 2010.  Accessed July 22, 2019.