Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sports Injuries Can Be Serious, Even Deadly: Jury Awards $10 Million in Wrongful Death of Florida College Football Player UCF's Ereck Plancher

Last week, an Orlando Jury Awarded $10 Million to the Parents of a College Freshman Who Died During Football Practice at the University of Central Florida

Ereck Plancher was only 19 years old when he died during a football practice (he was a wide receiver) at the University of Central Florida and last week, the jury came back with a $10 million verdict in the wrongful death personal injury lawsuit filed by Mr. and Mrs. Plancher against the University of Central Florida Athletics Association. The jury, however, did not award any punitive damages.

It has been reported that the jurors did not award any punitive damages because there was insufficient evidence that the school's football coach withheld water from Plancher as well as keeping team trainers from the boy after he had collapsed in an off-season workout designed to build the players up before the actual football season begins.

The National Center for Sports Safety keeps statistics on American kids who are injured or killed during sporting events every year, and according to their site (sourcing to Safe Kids USA):
  • Over 3,500,000 kids aged 14-18 are injured while playing sports each year with injuries that are serious enough to need professional medical treatment
  • Almost a fourth (21%) of all traumatic brain injuries suffered by kids in the United States each year are the result of sport injuries
  • Sixty-two percent (62%) of injuries sustained during organized sports happen during practices and not the official games, even though 33% of parents don't take practices as seriously as games and don't take the same safety precautions for practice.

Of course, the University will appeal the Plancher verdict, and it may be years before the family actually sees any money from this case. And if you find this cruel and heartless, you are not alone: CBS News Commentator Gregg Doyel has spoken for many when he has labeled the University, where the young man died under their watchful eye, shameless.

Lessons for Parents of Kids Playing School Sports From the Ereck Plancher Lawsuit
For parents in Florida and across the country, it's time to take heed of the jury verdict in the Ereck Plancher lawsuit and recognize that kids need protection during practices as well as games at any school sporting event. This doesn't just apply to football, and it doesn't just apply to college-level competition.

However, it's also important to recognize this country's organized sporting industry and the importance of sports to school districts as well as colleges and universities. There's money to be made, and profits to be protected.

Which means that if a child is tragically injured or killed when he or she is practicing a sport or playing a game, then the parents may have a long, hard fight to get justice: they, too, may face a "shameful" appeal.

It's always shocking when deep pocket defendants try and avoid responsibility for their actions because of monetary concerns, but it's especially true when children have been the victims. Something that personal injury lawyers, unfortunately, see happen all too often in this country today.

By Bryant Esquenazi on July 12, 2011 11:23 AM

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