9 Things You Can Do As A Coach To Minimise The Risk Of A Sports Injury Claim
Society today as a whole is becoming more litigious. People nowadays are becoming aware of their rights and as a consequence are more likely to bring legal action against someone who has wronged them.
The world of sport is no different. More and more people are bringing legal actions against people who they believe have wronged them in the sporting world, on and off the field of play. It is more important than ever to become aware of what rights and responsibilities you may or may not have as a participant as well as a coach, referee or spectator.
If you are aware of the rights you possess while being involved in sport then you can know when you have been wronged to the point where it is possible for you to seek redress through the courts. Likewise, it is important to know what legal responsibilities you have, so you can be aware of the risks involved and so reduce the risk of a claim being brought against you.
It is particularly vital for coaches and people supervising children’s sporting events to go through all the necessary procedures to make the event as safe as possible. Accidents will happen, but whether they were preventable or not will be the question.
It is important to realise that everyone involved in a sporting event owes a duty of care to each other. If your duty of care towards another participant, referee, spectator or coach is broken, a negligence claim can be brought against you and your club.
Coach to Player Responsibility
The most important area is the duty of care owed by the coach or supervisor to the participants. To assist you, these are 9 ways as a coach you can minimise the risk of a negligence claim being brought against you.
- Ensure you have necessary insurance – Even if the club has insurance, it is worth enquiring into whether a form of personal injury insurance for yourself is necessary or advisable for the club. A good policy can provide a pay-out in the event of an injury as well as income protection, hospitalisation benefit and cover for treatment such as physiotherapy or dentistry if a player was to seek to claim against you personally and succeed.
- Maintain equipment and facilities being used – Before sporting events the facilities should be checked and potential hazards should be removed. It is important to ensure equipment that will be used is in working order, maintained and repaired regularly. Warn and overused equipment should be regularly updated. A system of checks should be carried out on the older equipment.
- Discuss potential high risks with participants – Prior to a sporting event, it is important to ensure the participants understand the high risks involved in the activity that they are about to take part in. It is also a good idea to ensure each of the participants understands the rules of the sporting activity. Particularly high risk sporting activities should be assessed as to whether an indemnity should be signed by the participants.
- Ensure that you are adequately supervising the event/session It is important that not only is the person in charge aware of what is going on under his/her supervision, but also that the person in charge is suitably accredited and qualified. It is crucial that coaches be alert at all times and that distractions are minimised.
- It can also be a good idea to have participants sign a waiver – The waiver will explain the possible risks associated with the activity, and if a waiver or indemnity is signed, it means that the participant understands the risk they are taking themselves by participating.
- The participants should be checked to ensure they are able to carry out the activity – Sometimes it is necessary for health checks to be carried out to ensure that the participant is safe to take part in the event. In particular sports injuries associated with the sports will carry mandatory rest periods and medical assessments before a player can carry on post injury. As a coach, adhere strictly to this.
- It is crucial to ensure that any injured player is removed from the field of play when it is suspected they have sustained an injury – This is particularly important with regards to possible head injuries and concussions in contact sports, it is advised that the coach uses objective tests instead of his/her own subjective judgement to determine whether or not a participant is able to return to the field of play. If there is more than one coach or supervisor present then multiple views may be sought to ensure no additional risks are taken.
- It is also important to immediately stop potentially dangerous behaviour – Behaviour that can lead to injury must be discouraged and anybody found to be carrying out this dangerous behaviour must have action taken against them. If it is found that you failed to act when the dangerous behaviour first took place, it could have serious implications on a coach. Dangerous or injurious behaviour carried out by a player can attract personal lawsuits for assault and injury.
- Helmets and Safety Equipment – Ensure the safety equipment such as helmets are deemed fit and that they are accredited by a governing body. Brain injury type accidents can occur from impact to the head, unauthorised or copy equipment can hinder safety. Do not risk cheaper copies or unauthorised brands from unidentified locations.