According to the National Center for Sports Safety, over 3.5 million children under the age of fourteen sustain injuries from sporting accidents every year. Sporting accidents are tragic and can result in serious injuries, particularly in young people. Contact sports such as soccer and football carry an increased risk of severe trauma due to the greater force involved during the game. Preventable sports injuries occur for many reasons, including: inadequate protective gear; insufficient staff instruction; broken equipment; poorly maintained fields, gyms or courts; untrained or abusive coaches; unequal matching of players based on their ability and size; lack of medical equipment and safety procedures; and workouts or drills that are not well-matched to the athlete’s strength or ability.
Kacey Strough, a freshman at Bedford High School in Iowa, was a member of the high school’s football team during the 2012 season. Strough complained to his coach numerous times that his teammates were throwing footballs at his head from less than six feet away. The coach allegedly stated that he would handle it, but never did anything about the problem. Strough complained of headaches and double vision days after being hit in the head on several occasions. As time went on, his symptoms began to worsen, and he began experiencing slurred speech, severe headaches and partial paralysis, which resulted in hospitalization. After receiving a CT scan, the image showed that Strough had a condition called cavernous malformation, which leads to disruption of normal blood flow to the brain. Doctors believed that when Strough was hit in the head by the footballs, the malformation began to bleed. Strough underwent surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma. He now has to use a wheelchair and suffers from permanent brain damage.
According to Yahoo Sports, Strough’s teammates, coaches and the school nurse were aware that he complained of a possible concussion. He was even examined by the school nurse. The school and the school nurse were found to be negligent for failing to tell the coaches about the possible concussion and suggesting that they take him off the field, in compliance with a 2002 Iowa state law. This law requires that coaches and officials remove a player from the field when they believe there may be a possible concussion. Furthermore, the school and nurse were allegedly negligent in failing to follow up with Strough’s caretaker to make sure a doctor examined him. Strough was awarded $140,000 in medical expenses and $850,000 in “damages for pain and suffering, loss of mind and body, and loss of future earnings.” This is one of the largest payouts in a high school head injury case.