Normally a participant in a sport – even a child – assumes the risks inherent in the sport and therefore can’t sue to recover for injuries. There are some exceptions to the rule. For example, You don’t “assume the risk” of a danger you would not normally expect to find in the sport (example: a puddle on an indoor basketball court).
So here’s a summary of that new case: In Cvijenovich v Beacon Kids Wrestling Club, a child wrestler’s opponent suddenly did “an illegal or unreasonably dangerous wrestling move” causing him injury. An illegal or dangerous move like this is not covered by the “assumption of risk” doctrine because no one joins a wrestling club with the expectation that illegal, dangerous moves will be used. Participants assume the risk only of legal moves.
So the kid’s parents sued the wrestling club on behalf of their injured child, alleging that the Club failed to provide an adequately trained or certified referee to supervise the wrestling match. After all, the ref was just a high school wrestler. But the Appellate Court held that the illegal move happened so fast that no amount of supervision or training of the ref would have prevented it. In other words, even if the ref had been the best trained and most highly certified ref in the world, there is no way he could have expected or stopped the illegal move from happening. In fact, right after the move, the ref disqualified the wrestler and gave the match to his injured opponent. What else could he have done? Thus, the alleged “negligence” of the Club in failing to hire a well-trained ref did not cause the injury.
I suppose the kid’s parents could sue the other wrestler, but the problem there is coverage. A 10-year old wrestler is unlikely to have assets, his parents can’t normally be held liable for his actions, and homeowner’s insurance is unlikely to cover sports-related negligence.
At Michaels & Smolak, we have successfully brought sports injury cases, but the facts have to be just right for us to even consider such a case. The only way to find out whether your child’s case is likely to succeed is to call us to find out!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.