There is an ever-growing body of evidence of the lasting impact of repeated head injuries during contact sport. Less publicised is the risk of knee, ankle, shoulder and other joint injuries which once injured can be at increased risk of being repeated, not to mention the risk of osteoarthritis later in life.
As the start of the soccer, rugby and AFL season draws closer and parents finalise their children’s registrations with local clubs it is worth considering what sort of protections local clubs and sporting authorities provide if an amateur player were to sustain an injury during a game or at training.
A cursory glance at the standard Insurance cover that is provided by most sporting authorities as part of the registration process will tell you that there are very limited circumstances in which a claim under that policy will be helpful. In order to obtain an amount that comes close to providing full coverage for an injury the policy wording often refers to the ‘total’ loss of use of one or more limbs. The common injuries sustained during sports games such ligament tears to the knee, ankle or shoulder or even bone fractures do not meet this criteria and sports players (and their parents) can expect to be out of pocket.
Sports players who are under contract to their club have greater scope to make a claim against their club either in negligence or under the provisions of Australian Consumer Law. Amateur players are not so fortunate.
There have been instances where amateur players have been successful in establishing that bad behaviour on the sports field has amounted to an intentional act resulting in injury, otherwise known as an intentional tort. For a parent whose son or daughter has been injured due to the intentional act of another child this offers no reassurance. Most insurance policies will not respond to an intentional act and of course a child has little in the way of personal assets to provide compensation.
More likely to be successful, but nonetheless a significant challenge, is a claim in negligence against a member of a club or a referee. In either scenario the claim relies on the accused being indemnified by the club or the sporting authority’s Insurer. These claims are complicated and will be determined by the specific factual circumstances of each case.
If you or someone you know has suffered a sporting injury, and you are unsure whether you are able to make a claim for compensation we encourage you to contact Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800 to arrange a free, no-obligation assessment of your claim. Alternatively, you can make an online enquiry.
Written by Alexander Morrison.
Alexander Morrison is an Associate and Solicitor in Victoria Roy’s Practice Group. Alex has a varied practice including motor vehicle claims and public liability claims that occur both within Australia and overseas.