sports medicine

Sports medical doctors treat team players and offer medical advice. So, are they at risk for a medical malpractice lawsuit? Does a player receiving treatment have protection? Per a recent Insurance Journal article, Congress is currently working on a legislation that will clarify their role in malpractice and if they will be covered by insurance when traveling outside of their insured state. The bill, known as US 689, has been sent to the U.S. Senate.

The measure itself is designed to protect sports team doctors when they travel across state lines and treat their athletes. But, what about the team members? What are their protections and options when a sports team doctor commits malpractice?

Team Doctors Are Not Immune from Malpractice

Team doctors, while employees of the team, are not immune from medical malpractice and they could commit mistakes that cost their team members. As a physician, they owe a duty of care to the team that they treat, just like a physician in a doctor’s office. When that team physician fails to act within that required duty, he or she is considered negligent and guilty of malpractice.

Take, for example, if a team doctor were to fail to diagnose a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a player. That player can continue playing and receive another strike to the head, only furthering the TBI. The team doctor did not perform the necessary tests to rule out the TBI; therefore, he or she is guilty of malpractice. In this instance, the player and his or her loved ones could file a lawsuit against that team doctor, because he or she breached the required duty to test and diagnose.

Schools and professional sports teams owe their players a duty of care. Therefore, in these cases, the team or school employing the physician may also be responsible for the error. This duty also applies to coaches. If the coach played a role in the misdiagnosis, they could be held liable for the injuries.

What About Workers’ Compensation?

In some instances, the injury may be a form of workers’ compensation – especially for paid athletes. This is why it is important to consult a personal injury attorney following an accident or medical diagnosis error. An attorney can determine if workers’ compensation or malpractice would apply in your sports-related injury.

A professional athlete is entitled to workers’ compensation for athletic injuries directly related to their employment. This includes aggravation of existing injuries from substandard care provided by a team doctor. If the player’s injury is secondary to negligent care, he or she may not be able to file a lawsuit against that team, employer, or the physician who caused the injury.

Speak with An Attorney Today

If you have been injured by the negligence of a team doctor, you may be entitled to compensation under several theories of law. In order to do so, however, you must first consult with an attorney who has experience in malpractice and personal injury. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call 866-479-7909 or contact us online to get started.