The start of a new school year means the start of football season, and a whole myriad of other school sponsored interscholastic sports for both boys and girls, including baseball, cheer-leading, Lacrosse, soccer, tennis, swimming and diving, weightlifting and golf. All of these activities are subject to various risks and it is a privilege to participate in them.

To gain the right to play in such activities the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has a Consent and Release from Liability Certificate which must be signed by both the student and his or her parent or guardian. The Release is in my opinion “Bullet Proof” meaning that it is valid and will bar a suit by the child or his parent for injuries and any medical bills sustained during a sponsored event. The form even bars suit if death occurs so it is a very serious thing which needs to be planned and discussed. Too many parental choices come up without adequate time to think and plan ahead. The release does not bar a products liability suit for defective and unsafe equipment (like a football helmet which enhances injury).

Courts condone the use of Releases especially for school and church related functions, known in the legal business as Exculpatory Releases. This means that if you sign the FHSAA Consent and Release form and your child is injured neither the school, its officials or other schools will have any liability for injuries, accidental or otherwise.

Heatstroke is a major issue in August football sessions as the kids start training again. Heatstroke is the third leading cause of death among athletes in the United States. Thirty-nine football players — 29 in high school — have died from heat stroke since 1995, according to data compiled by the National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research at the University of North Carolina.  New technology which monitors the body during exercise may be helpful in stopping heatstroke. The fact of the matter is that a good trainer will know the early signs of heatstroke and take steps necessary to protect the athlete. If he does not have the necessary knowledge serious injury or death can occur and there will be no right to sue for the trainer’s or coaches’ negligence.

The FHSAA Consent and Release form does not require that there is insurance but asks politely if  there is some insurance plan available. Given the fact that medical and hospital bills are so costly, I recommend parents make sure their kids have insurance for injuries during school sponsored events.

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