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High School Football Injury Pits District Against Student

A Clark County lawsuit brings some interesting questions about high school sports into focus: Should a high school football player assume that his medical expenses will be covered by the school district’s insurance policy in the case of severe injury?

Should parents and students know of gaps in coverage, so they can decide whether or not to buy supplemental insurance?

Those are some of the questions to be dealt with in a lawsuit that began with a personal injury suffered by a Green Valley High School football player in 2008, leaving him temporarily unable to walk.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that the lawsuit focuses on the insurance the Clark County School District has for students who play sports or engage in other extracurricular activities.

The student suffered a spine injury in a game against Centennial High in September of 2008 that left him unable to walk. Less than a year later, he had regained some use of his legs and walked across the stage to accept his diploma with classmates.

Personal injury attorneys for the student say his injury-related medical bills totaled $195,000. Plus, they note, that doesn’t include future medical treatments, physical therapy and the pain and suffering he endured.

They say when they submitted a claim to the Clark County School District’s insurer for $2.5 million (the maximum the policy allows), the company rejected the claim.

Now they’re suing the insurer and school district, saying the district was negligent for failing to get a policy that provides catastrophic coverage that covers injuries other than complete paralysis of the limbs.

The suit alleges that the district also failed to inform parents and students of the gaps in coverage for students who receive debilitating injuries, but are not permanently paralyzed throughout a limb or limbs.

The injured student has partial, permanent paralysis of parts of his body.

The school district and insurer responded to the suit in a filing in court, saying the district isn’t obligated to provide catastrophic insurance and is also not required to inform parents and students of supposed shortcomings in the policy they did provide.

Source: Las Vegas Sun: “High school football injury sparks lawsuit over insurance coverage”: December 1, 2010

John P. Aldrich
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