Open Accessibility Menu

Wrongful Death Claims and High School Sports Injuries

Casey Woodruff

undefinedIf you have been reading recent news surrounding the deaths of high school football players across the country, you know that student athlete safety should be a serious issue for Chicago schools. When we allow our children to play sports, we should not have to anticipate that they will suffer fatal injuries on the field. In tragic cases where youth athletes do sustain deadly injuries while playing football, who is responsible? And can surviving family members seek compensation by filing a wrongful death claim?

Recent Youth Football Deaths

Are high schools in the Chicago area doing enough to protect football players from the fatal injuries that have plagued other students across the country? In early September, a 16-year-old high school football player sustained a deadly injury when he was hit during a punt return, according to a report from CNN News. The student was rushed to the hospital, but the hit broke his neck, and he later died as a result of his injuries. This accident was the first in a recent string of deaths that have been reported by a shocking number of high schools.

A few weeks later, an article from ABC News reported that a 17-year-old high school football player suffered a fatal injury that resulted from “taking repeated tackles during a game.” The cause of death was later specified as a massive intra-abdominal hemorrhage, which resulted from the student suffering a spleen laceration. The report emphasized how “experts say that abdominal injuries can be hard to identify, especially in the heated moments of a close football game.” Yet Dr. Susannah Briskin, a sports medicine specialist, underscored that youth football players do not wear gear or padding that provides sufficient protection to the abdominal area. And many players who feel abdominal discomfort or pain do not realize that they are suffering from internal bleeding.

Shortly after reporting on the player’s death that resulted from internal bleeding, ABC News reported that another high school football player had sustained deadly injuries during play. This time, the 17-year-old athlete sustained a fatal head injury. According to the report, even youth football players are “particularly vulnerable to head injuries.” Indeed, high school players are “exposed to an entire spectrum of traumatic brain injury (TBI) from mild injury (concussions) to most severe . . . which are bleeding of the brain.” To prevent this kind of death, experts emphasize that parents and their children should be educated about the risks of TBI and high school football.

Football Injury Protocols and Responsibility in Illinois High Schools

According to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), member schools have a particular responsibility to students when it comes to brain injury management. In addition to educating parents and players, school are required to:

  • Adopt a policy for dealing with student athlete brain injuries and suspected brain injuries; and
  • Ensure compliance with return-to-play (RTP) policies.

But it is not only schools that have a responsibility to students. Coaches, too, have responsibilities, including but not limited to:

  • Immediately removing players from the field when a brain injury is suspected; and
  • Not allowing an athlete who has been removed because of a suspected brain injury to return without meeting RTP protocols.

If certain policies and protocols are not followed and a player suffers a serious or fatal injury, a school and/or a coach may have been negligent. Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, when a person’s death results from a “wrongful act, neglect or default,” surviving family members may be able to recover.

If you have lost a child due to sports-related injuries, you should contact a Chicago wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to learn more about filing a wrongful death claim. Do not hesitate to contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans Law Offices to learn more about how we can assist you.

  • "I had an awesome experience with Dexter Evans!"

    "I was recently injured in an auto accident and Dexter Evans handled my case. He is the best. Awesome experience. Definitely would recommend to anyone!"

  • "They always keep in touch & are quick to respond."

    "I want to thank attorney Jon Walker for all his work on my worker's comp case. He explains everything in detail to you so you understand. Always kept in touch, you didn't have ..."

  • "I will definitely recommend them!"

    "I was injured in an auto accident and Dexter Evans handled my case. He was awesome. I will definitely recommend them to friends and family."

  • "I was very happy with the outcome of my case!"

    "A friend referred me to Woodruff Johnson & Evans. Attorney Jay Johnson explained the process so that I understood what was going on with my case. He was responsive to my ..."

  • "I was very satisfied with the results!"

    "I was referred to Woodruff Johnson & Evans by a friend who had used them in the past. Everyone I had contact with was so kind and polite. My lawyer, Jay Johnson, explained the ..."

  • "Woodruff Johnson & Evans helped settled my case when the insurance company refused to pay my medical bill!"

    "I consulted the lawyers from Woodruff Johnson & Evans and they settled my case when the insurance company refused to pay my medical bill! I think I will recommend people to ..."

  • "Dexter Evans was incredible at handling my auto-accident case & provided constant communication about any questions or concerns I had!"

    "Dexter (DJ) Evans was incredible at handling my auto-accident case and provided constant communication about any questions or concerns I had. He addressed every concern I had ..."

  • "Steven was helpful in preparing me for a deposition and was very instrumental in gathering details about the location of my slip and fall!"

    "Steven was helpful in preparing me for a deposition and was very instrumental in gathering details about the location of my slip and fall. He negotiated what I thought was a ..."

  • "I would definitely hire them again!"

    "I hired Jon Walker from this firm and it was the best thing I could have done for my disability case. It can be a long, complicated process, but Jon took care of everything. ..."

  • "I was happy with the outcome of my case!!"

    "I was referred to Woodruff Johnson and Evans by a coworker after I was injured on the job. My lawyer, Russ Haugen, walked me through the process and was very informative about ..."

View All Testimonials

Get Your Free Consultation

  • Please enter your First Name.
  • Please enter your Last Name.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
    You entered an invalid number.
  • This isn't a valid email address.
    Please enter your email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.