Does your lacrosse league or program have a documented Concussion Management Plan (CMP)? And if so, are your program leaders and coaches committed to following it?

If you answered no to either of those questions, your organization may be vulnerable to financial risk, as evidenced by the recent record settlement against a Florida school district, chronicled in the publication, From the Gym to the Jury.

High school athlete Sean McNamee of Tampa received a severe head injury while playing catch with teammates before football practice in October, 2013. He fell and hit his head on a paint machine. Following the incident, McNamee left the school campus, unsupervised by an adult, and drove himself home. Once there, his parents took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with dangerous swelling of the brain. He was placed in a medically induced coma for nine days.

BLOG: What Causes Concussions in Lacrosse?

While McNamee has now recovered from his injury, his parents sued the school district, claiming that, among other things, it failed to provide proper medical care. The school claimed that McNamee had been escorted from the field and that an athletic trainer had placed a telephone call to his parents. Video surveillance footage revealed that McNamee was left unattended for several minutes after the incident and left campus on his own.

The jury sided with the plaintiff and awarded a $2 million judgement. Evidence during the trial revealed that the school lacked a formal protocol for the treatment of head injuries and that it was unlikely to follow such a protocol had it existed.

“Making sure your team or league has a concussion management plan is a big part of responding to head injury to help athletes recover and return to life,” said Bruce Griffin, director of health and sport safety at US Lacrosse.

As this case demonstrates, school districts and sports organizations are not exempt from litigation. Some youth organizations are also finding that insurance coverage related to concussions is becoming more difficult to acquire.

“So far we have seen less of an impact with that in lacrosse and one reason is that we are leading the way with these CMP guidelines and their adoption locally,” Griffin said. “The safety of athletes is always paramount and how they are cared for after a potential injury is a big part of the effort needed to keep them safe.”

Further information about developing a protocol for dealing with head injuries in lacrosse is offered through US Lacrosse’s Concussion Management Plan Guidelines.