- Products & Services
- Knowledge Base
"High school coaches must take the job of ensuring the safety of athletes just as seriously as they take the job of athletic skill building and winning games."
ATLANTA, GA, November 30, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Athletic coaches have an unwavering responsibility to provide a safe atmosphere for their athletes to practice and play games. When coaches violate the trust that parents place in them, resulting in a fatality, The Stoddard Firm is ready to hold them responsible through a wrongful death claim.
Although the majority of high school coaches follow through on their responsibilities to keep players safe, errors sometimes occur. In 2019 in Clayton County, Georgia, basketball player Imani Bell died after an Elite Scholars Academy basketball outdoor conditioning practice in nearly triple-digit heat. Weather warnings related to excessive heat were in place in the area on the day of the fatality.
Bell's two coaches appeared to show negligence by forcing the players to practice in excessive heat without watching for the early warning signs of health distress. When Bell showed signs of serious heat-related illness, the coaches allegedly told her to continue the drill. She eventually lost consciousness and later died.
"We appreciate the work coaches perform to help players improve their athletic skills," acknowledged attorney Matt Stoddard. "But high school coaches must also ensure that players remain safe in practices and games. Failure to enforce and uphold safety guidelines is a clear sign of negligence when a fatality occurs."
The Georgia High School Association publishes guidelines that coaches need to follow when holding practices. Some of these guidelines refer specifically to practices held in high heat and humidity levels.
The guidelines even provide specific actions the coaches should take when temperature and humidity readings reach certain levels. When high school coaches fail to adhere to these state guidelines, they place their athletes in danger in a clear sign of negligence.
School district administrators who do not follow through and ensure that coaches follow the guidelines are also behaving in a negligent manner in terms of protecting the health of student-athletes.
Even if a practice session starts in acceptable temperature and humidity readings, failure to monitor changing weather conditions during the day is a sign of negligence on the part of the coaches.
"Coaches must have intimate knowledge of the state's regulations regarding practice in adverse weather conditions," Stoddard said. "And school districts must ensure that their coaches know the importance of maintaining safety guidelines for practices."
A recent National Athletic Trainers Association study showed that two-thirds of fatalities among young athletes occur in a practice or conditioning setting.
Trainers and health professionals rarely are present during practice sessions, meaning coaches must be on high alert about potential health problems. Without trainers present, athletes showing signs of health distress may not receive life-saving care as early as they should.
This further emphasizes the role of the coach to spot distress signals early enough that the student has plenty of time to stop practicing and to travel to receive medical care.
"High school coaches must take the job of ensuring the safety of athletes just as seriously as they take the job of athletic skill-building and winning games," Stoddard said.
As a Georgia wrongful death attorney Stoddard understands the gravity of this type of situation. We want to help families receive the closure they are seeking after a fatality occurs in an athletic practice or game.
By holding high school coaches responsible for their negligent actions, we hopefully can prevent other families and athletes from having to go through the same situation.
"By publicizing what happened to your child through a wrongful death claim, we will remind other high school coaches of the importance of taking care of their athletes' health at all times and watching for signs of distress in practices and games," Stoddard said.
At The Stoddard Firm, we keep a small caseload because we are committed to devoting our time, energy and resources to each of our clients. We represent people in personal injury claims, including those involving negligent security and premises liability claims. We help clients throughout Georgia, representing both injured people and those who have lost a loved one in an accident.
We know that no two clients have the same needs, which is why we create a unique plan and cater our services to accommodate you. If you've been seriously injured, it's our job to make sure you get the payment you need. We take that job seriously. Reach out to The Stoddard Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.
# # #