An Illinois School’s Failure to Follow Its Concussion Protocol Allows a Cheerleader’s Parents to Pursue an Injury Case Against the School and Coaches

Suing a school in Illinois can be challenging because this state has a statute that makes schools and school employees immune from liability in several circumstances. In order to succeed in this type of lawsuit, you cannot simply establish that the school made a negligent error; you have to prove that the misconduct that contributed to the injury was “willful and wanton.” This means that you will need more and different proof than if you were simply pursuing a negligence lawsuit. Just because the law requires a higher burden of proof does not mean you should be deterred from pursuing an action if your child was injured at school, however. There are still ways to achieve success. If your child was injured in school, contact an experienced Chicago injury attorney to discuss your options.

The case of K.S. was one that achieved a degree of success for the injured student. K.S. was a student at a high school in a small town west of Elgin and a member of her high school’s freshman cheerleading squad in 2010-11. During a November practice, K.S suffered a fall. She allegedly fell from a height of roughly 10 feet and hit her head on the ground. The varsity coach allegedly asked K.S. if she was okay and basic questions like “where are you?” and “what’s your name?” The girl answered the questions successfully, and was allowed to return to practice after roughly five minutes, according to her complaint.

She suffered a second fall on her head 12 days after the first accident. Allegedly, the freshman team coach asked if the girl was okay and when the student said yes, no further action was taken. The girl’s third fall occurred 10 days after the second. Again, she hit her head and, again, the coach only asked if the girl was okay and took no further action.

By early 2011, the girl began experiencing post-concussion symptoms, which led to her family’s lawsuit against the school, the coaches and others. As K.S.’s case showed, when you have the right evidence, there are still avenues to pursue your school injury case successfully. Although the trial judge in K.S.’s case sided against her family and awarded summary judgment to the defendants, the Appellate Court later issued a ruling that revived the case.

The defense’s argument was that K.S’s case essentially amounted to a case of failure to diagnose or examine, which, by Illinois law’s standards, would have been clearly covered by the immunity statute. K.S.’s family argued, and the Appellate Court agreed, that this was different. The school had a concussion protocol in place but, according to the student, failed to follow it. The student argued that the school failed to follow the protocol when it failed to remove her from participating in her sport, even after she began exhibiting symptoms consistent with a concussion.

When a school has written policy and it fails to follow that policy and a student is injured as result, then that may provide the child an opportunity to obtain compensation in a lawsuit that is not thwarted by the immunity statute. The Appellate Court explained that this school’s alleged failure to follow its concussion protocol was similar a previous case where immunity did not apply. In that 1997 case, the court allowed a family to sue after a student committed suicide. The court ruled that the school was potentially liable, not because it failed to examine or diagnose the child’s suicidal tendencies, but for failing to follow proper procedures after students notified a school counselor of the child’s suicide threats.

Injury lawsuits against schools can be tricky, but they can also be completed successfully if you have the right evidence of misconduct. For the advice and counsel you need for your injury case, talk to the diligent Chicago injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck. Our attorneys have, for many years, been providing strong advocacy that gets results. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Illinois Mother Secures $100K Settlement of Injury Case After Son with Special Needs Falls Down Stairs at School, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Aug. 14, 2018

Northern Illinois Elementary School’s Sledding Trip Leads to Second-Grade Student’s Trip to the Emergency Room, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, March 28, 2018