Can a Coach be Held Responsible for an Injury to his Athlete?

Generally, no.  Sports have inherent risks.  An instructor or coach generally is not responsible for injuries to players if the risk of the injury is inherent to the sport.  Holding a coach responsible for such injuries may have a chilling effect on the sport or activity.  The coach must be allowed to urge the athlete to strive to excel or to reach a new level of performance.  But a coach has a duty not to increase the risk of injury by encouraging or allowing the athlete to participate in the sport when the athlete is physically unfit to participate or by allowing the athlete to use unsafe equipment or instruments.  

For example, an equestrian trainer was held responsible when he forced a student rider to train on a lame horse and the rider was injured during a fall.  Similarly, a baseball coach would be responsible to an injured player if he knowingly supplied faulty equipment such as a batting helmet or catching gear.  In those cases, although the injury may be “accidental”, a coach or trainer may be held responsible because his conduct increases the risk to his athletes.

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