Can a Youth Sports Coach Be Sued?
Liability risks of a youth sports coach.
Your child wants to play a youth sport and wants you to be the coach. That is great! You have always dreamed of one day coaching your child and teaching them the proper way of playing the sport, whether it is baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, football, field hockey, etc.
So as you prepare, you watch coach training videos, read the county coaching requirements and read several books on the proper way to coach the kids. One other thing you should make sure you read is your insurance policies. Once you decide to coach a team, you are taking on a major responsibility and there are situations that you could be put in that would make you personally liable for their safety.
Let’s say you are at practice, and a storm is approaching. You look up at the sky and think that you have time to get a little more practice in before the storm hits. Then, all of the sudden you here the ‘BOOM!”. You look around and see one of your players on the ground, and your heart sinks……
After it all clears, you realize that your decision to keep practicing put your players at risk, and it won’t be long before you see the lawsuit paperwork.
When we decide to coach our kids, we are taking on a lot of responsibility. There are several things that could happen to your players that you could be held personally liable for. Such as (but not limited to):
- The lightning strike in the example above
- Having player collapse of dehydration from not allowing adequate water breaks
- Having a player continue playing even though there were signs of a concussion or other serious injuries
- Having an auto accident while transporting players to and from a game or practice
- Conducting a practice without the proper equipment which results in an injury (ex: No helmets during batting practice in baseball or softball)
Although most coaches are probably thinking that they would never put their players in the situations above, it can happen even to the best of them.
There have also been cases where coached have been sued due to an injury to a player during a game or practice. In most of these types of cases, the coaches have won the lawsuits, but it still takes time and money to hire a lawyer and properly defend. Examples are:
- A baseball player misjudged a fly ball during an outfield drill and the ball hit him in the mouth, causing extensive damage to their teeth. The coach was sued for negligence in conducting the drill.
- A softball player injured her leg while sliding and the parent sued the coach for not teaching proper sliding technique.
So before you agree to coach a sport, you really want to look over the liability insurance levels on your homeowners insurance and your personal umbrella insurance policies. If you are not sure if you are adequately protected, please consult with your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent to go over your insurance coverage.
After all, you do not want to put all of your assets at risk when all you want to do is help out the youth of your community.
I personally help coach my son’s baseball team and I understand the risks associated with it. But like the other coaches who dedicate their time and energy for our youth, for me, the reward far outweighs the risks. There is no greater feeling than working with the kids and watching them become better athletes and better people right before our eyes. But i do make sure I have the proper insurance protections in place should there be a moment in time that I get pulled into one of these lawsuits.
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