Sports Injuries In Children In Alaska


We encourage our children to participate in sports because of the potential benefits. Sports teach our children teamwork and perseverance and builds their confidence and physical health.  However, participation in youth sports carries with it a risk of injury. In fact, Johns Hopkins Medicine estimates that out of about 30 million children under the age of 14 who participate in sports, about 3.5 million will be injured annually. Without a doubt, many of these injuries are no one’s fault and occur during the normal course of play. However, what happens when a child is injured through the fault of another person’s negligence or intentional behavior?



In Alaska, negligence is generally defined as when one person owes another a duty of care and breaches that duty, causing an injury. An example of this would be if the coach of a youth hockey team allowed a child to go onto the ice without a helmet and the child was injured by a puck to the head. Most likely, the rules of the rink and the league require all participants to wear a helmet at all times on the ice. A coach is responsible for the safety and well-being of the players and failing to require the child to wear a helmet is likely a breach of that duty. In Alaska, liability for negligence is determined by a comparative negligence framework, meaning that the fault of each party is compared to determine liability.


Intentional Actions

What happens when a player intentionally injures another player? To use another hockey example, if a player gets beaten for a goal, gets angry and intentionally slashes the player who made him or her look bad, who is liable? Unless the coach directed the player to injure the opponent, most likely the coach is blameless. However, the child who lashed out has most likely committed an intentional tort — namely, battery. In this example, the player intentionally violated the rules of the game and did so with intent to injure. The injuries that resulted could be said to be reasonably expected. Therefore, in many instances, the child could be held liable for the personal injury he or she created through those actions.


Waivers of Liability

Almost without fail, when children sign up for a sport, the parent or child must sign a waiver limiting the liability of the facility, league, and/or coaches. While the Alaska Supreme Court clarified in 2014 what constitutes a valid waiver of liability, the case involved an adult. What about in the case of a child? Alaska law does provide for a parent to be able to waive the right of a child to sue a provider of sports or recreational activity for negligence. The law, however, does not allow a parent to release or waive a child’s right to a claim for reckless or intentional misconduct.


When a child is injured in a sports activity, emotions naturally run high. Whether someone is liable for the injury is based on the facts and circumstances in each instance and every situation is different. Personal injury attorneys deal with these complexities every day. If your child has been hurt in the Anchorage area during a sports event, you owe it to your family to determine whether someone else is liable. The skilled and experienced attorneys at Power & Power Law have been protecting the rights of injured children for decades. Give us a call at 907-222-9990 or toll free at 833-669-9990 or click here to set up your initial consultation to see what we can do for you.