Tag Archives: liability

Are State High School Athletic Association Policies Effective for Concussion Management?

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from the recent issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter. To read the full article, please subscribe at http://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

By John Miller, Troy University, and Robin Ammon, University of South Dakota

Many interscholastic athletes, particularly high school football players, are likely to incur concussions while participating in a sport (McCrea, Hammeke, Olsen, Leo, & Guskiewicz, 2004). Copeland (2010) further indicated that 3.4 out of every 1000 athletes suffer a concussion in interscholastic contests or practices. Because of increasing documentation of sport-related concussions, public awareness has also increased. It is, therefore, essential that high school officials such as athletic directors, coaches, and athletic trainers be aware of the standard of care guidelines to manage the risk of concussion that could reduce potential litigation. A primary source of these guidelines may be found in the state athletic association policies.

Currently all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have sport-related concussion laws in place (Weinberger & Briskin, 2013).  However, most state courts have expressed a reluctance to interfere judicially with the contractual relationship between a state high school athletic association and its member schools (Mitten, 2014). Courts have also taken the position that they are not in the best position to decide sports disputes and instead defer to sport regulators and voluntary associations to make decisions according to their own rules (Indiana High School Athletic Association v. Carlberg, 1997). Furthermore, Crane v. Indiana High School Athletic Association (1992) suggested that the state governing body’s rules, interpretations, and applications should be published to provide standard of care guideline to its member schools, students, and parents.

The results of a study on state high school athletic association policies for managing sport-related concussions revealed that concussion education policies for more than 70% of high school athletic directors did not exist (Miller & Ammon, 2017). However, nearly 75% of coaches were required to review concussion information or follow the standards set by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS). Almost 65% of the state policies required licensed medical personnel such as team doctors to make the final concussion diagnosis.  Disturbingly, more than 5% did not specify a policy as to who is responsible for a final concussion diagnosis. When describing the type of concussion protocols, 48% did not indicate any type of concussion protocols to be followed during a contest. However, 22% followed NFHS policy guidelines. While nearly 50% of the state policies did not specify …

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State High School Athletic Associations Get Proactive with Concussion Insurance

(Editor’s Note: What follows is a brief excerpt of an article written by Brennah Blackwelder that appeared in the August 2015 Concussion Litigation Alert. For the rest of the article and numerous others, please subscribe athttp://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

Leave it to the state known for its “Big Sky” to bring even more clarity to the cloudiness regarding concussion insurance and high school student athletes.

The Montana High School Association (MHSA) announced earlier this summer that it would facilitate concussion insurance for the student-athletes at its member institutions. Called HeadStrong, the insurance program thrusts Montana, as well as Michigan, which also implemented the program, to the forefront of those high school athletic associations that are being proactive about the concussions crisis.

With HeadStrong, which is managed by Dissinger Reed Insurance in Overland Park, KS, student athletes can seek prompt, professional attention at the first sign of a possible concussion.

MHSA Executive Director Mark Beckman told Concussion Litigation Reporter that “providing this concussion insurance is just one of the proactive measures implemented by the MHSA, which along with our other proactive policies will hopefully reduce legal exposure for our association and member schools.”

He also believes more states “will be reviewing this coverage for possible implementation,” especially given the “reasonable cost of the premium for each individual participant.” The maximum benefit of $25,000 per injury per year comes with a $0 deductible per claim. The coverage, which Beckman said the membership “overwhelmingly supported,” will cost each member school just $1.50 per athlete annually in premiums.

Given today’s high-deductible plans and co-pays, he believes parents will be more proactive than ever about bringing their son or daughter in to be checked.

Besides the new coverage, the MHSA is taking other steps ….

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Federal Judge Finds for School District, Others in Concussion Case

(Editor’s Note: What follows is a brief excerpt from a case summary in the June 2015 Concussion Litigation Reporter. For more details on the case and numerous others, please subscribe at http://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit of a high school student athlete in a case that tested the limits to which public high school coaches, administrators and school districts can be held liable for concussions sustained by student athletes during interscholastic competition.

In so ruling, the court found that the defendants’ conduct did not abridge the plaintiff’s Constitutional rights. In addition, the defendants are immune from the state’s tort liability law. However, the plaintiff may file an amended complaint with regard to some aspects of her claim.

The plaintiff, now 17, suffered the concussion during a preseason soccer scrimmage in 2012. The plaintiff collided with another player while going for a header. The plaintiff alleged that she heard the opposing coach say she should be taken out of the game. One of her teammates allegedly told the coach that the plaintiff had been hit in the head and needed to come out of the game to be evaluated. The plaintiff stayed in for the rest of the game, during which time she had collisions with other players and headed the ball several more times. She began to experience headaches on the bus ride home from the scrimmage. The next day, she was dizzy and had black spots in her field of vision.

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