Liability and negligence in Coaching

Standard of Care – accepted coaching practices for a sport to keep
the athletes safe from harm.
No one expects the coach to be perfect and accidents and injuries do occur to
athletes in sports regardless of the coaches action or inaction.
Athletes and parents accept a certain level of risk when participating
in a sport… BUT…
A coach who does not act in a reasonable and prudent manner as compared to
the standards for coaching their sport could be legally responsible for injury
according to the law.
Coaches have a legal obligation to provide a safe environment for
This applies to all coaches regardless of experience, employment or
Coaches are expected to manage the risks of their sport according to
accepted practice!
A Coach is Negligent when all four of the following occur:
1. A duty of care exists with the athlete
2. That duty imposes a standard of care the coach does not meet
3. An athlete or some other person is harmed
4. The failure of the coach to meet the standard, either through
action or inaction, can be shown to have caused the harm
Standard of Care is what the coach should do in a given situation. These
standards are decided by experienced coaches and sport bodies policies.
Liability refers to responsibility for an injury
In sport, the coach can be held liable if by their
negligence one of their athletes is hurt
The school or sport agency may also be held
liable if they did not adequately check the
coach’s credentials or give proper training
Waivers are documents that participants sign to
waive liability should they get hurt (may not
hold up in court though)
Managing Risk
As a coach you can manage the risk by:
1. Retain the risk – do nothing as the risk is minor
and so are the consequences (sprains…)
2. Reduce the risk – take measures to reduce the
likelihood of injury or minimize the
consequences by use of proper equipment,
training, first aid protocols in place
3. Transfer the risk – through waivers or contracts
4. Avoid the risk – coach decides activity too
dangerous and avoids anything causing the risk
Make Safety a priority in
Your Coaching
Safe Practice Standards for Coaches:
Use common sense, know and follow accepted safety practices for your sport
Follow and enforce guidelines set out by your sport organization for safe practices
and transportation (ie visors, body checking, trip forms, etc)
Prepare for the risks inherent to your sport and athletes (tackling in football)
Supervise your drills (keep under control and watch for danger)
Have an EAP and medical kit ready
Plan appropriate warms ups before the start of practices and games
Know the fitness and skill levels of your athletes and plan practices and
competition to match
Ensure the facility/environment is safe (check fields for obstacles…)
Check equipment –make sure it fits, teach athletes to use it correctly and enforce
Negligence and Liability Assignment
 Describe 2 different sport scenarios to show
your understanding of Negligence by a coach.
1. Make up a scenario where an athlete is
injured and the coach is negligent and liable.
2. Make up a scenario where an athlete is
injured but the coach is not negligent or
Be sure to describe the circumstances in each
case and explain why they would or would
not be negligent.

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