Injuries are a common occurrence for any sports participant and often due to hastily provided medical treatment and the costs of winning, the risk of re-injury to athletes is often a prevalent issue facing any major sport. However, who, if at all, is liable for additional injuries suffered by an athlete following initial medical treatment? Generally, when an athlete suffers an injury that is the foreseeable or preventable consequence of playing or participating in sports or other recreational activities, he or she may have a potential personal injury claim barred due to knowingly assuming the risk of injury inherent within the sport or activity. However, when an athlete who is injured initially as a foreseeable consequence of participating in sports, a later injury following seeking medical treatment may lead to civil liability for medical negligence. Recently, a former Indiana University student athlete discussed in an ESPN Outside-the-Lines report being denied a request for MRI following a back injury she suffered while the IU Rowing team. Despite suffering from continuous pain after being discharged from Indiana University Medical Director, being disregarded by her coaching staff, and suffering alienation by her teammates who disbelieved the severity of her injuries, the IU former athlete was later told that there was no longer a solid connection between her lower back and pelvis after being seen by a private physician outside of the IU Health network. As a result, the IU former athlete later filed a lawsuit against the IU physicians before withdrawing it a few months later.
In spite of efforts made by the NCAA to address pressure by athletic trainers and other in-house university medical professions, organizations like Indiana University have considered hiring once private doctors as in-house medical providers to obtain better oversight over these doctors. However, this change may prove controversial as the NCAA is attempting to create member legislation to provide more independent judgment to in-house medical professionals to prevent the pressure of winning to prevent re-injury or other instances of medical negligence. Being an injured athlete is difficult as some injuries may lead to decisions that may impact an athlete’s career, health, and professional reputation. If you or a loved one are injured due to the negligence of another, please contact Schiller Law Offices at 888-578-3100 or on the web at IndyInjured.com to learn more about your potential rights to compensation.