Injuries are an unfortunate reality when it comes to sports. Athletes at all levels of play and competition must always do what they can to avoid injury. Oftentimes, injuries are unavoidable. What happens when a student-athlete's injury could have been avoided? What if the decision of a coach or trainer allowing an athlete to compete led to a serious injury? Who covers the medical costs of injuries to NCAA student-athletes? These are all questions that are posed when discussing the repercussions of injuries to NCAA student-athletes. If you are an NCAA student-athlete and have suffered an injury, then it is important to speak to an experienced attorney to help you understand your legal options.
Who Qualifies as an NCAA Athlete?
Any student who plays on a college team that is sanctioned for NCAA competition qualifies as an NCAA athlete. It is not required that you earn an athletic scholarship to be considered an NCAA athlete. Both scholarship athletes and non-scholarship athletes are viewed in the same way when considering who is or isn't an NCAA athlete. Student-athletes at the Division III level cannot be given an athletic scholarship since they are not available. Only Division I and Division II student-athletes can be given athletic scholarships. Nearly 70% of Division III student-athletes are given some type of financial aid and tuition assistance.
Are NCAA Athletes Medically Insured?
All NCAA student-athletes are required to have medical insurance in order to participate in collegiate athletics. It may be a surprise to learn that the NCAA does not require that schools pay for the medical insurance and healthcare costs for student-athletes. If an NCAA student-athlete is injured, then his or her injury is expected to first be covered by the health insurance company of the student-athlete's parents. Neither the NCAA nor any member school are medically responsible for the injuries of student-athletes.
The medical coverage of different members of a program also varies. If a university coach or staff member gets injured while on the job, then his or her medical expenses would be paid under a workers' compensation plan since the coach is a school employee. If a student-athlete gets injured while playing, then his or her own health insurance would be expected to cover the expenses, along with any out-of-pocket deductible costs to the student-athlete. While it seems nonsensical that those who are the most prone to injury (student-athletes) get less coverage and support medically from their universities than those who are least prone to injury (coaches or other staff), this is the way the NCAA is purposely designed.
What are the Health Insurance Requirements for NCAA Athletes?
The NCAA does not require its member schools to provide health insurance for its athletes. A recent survey found that 30% of Division I schools did not provide health insurance of any kind to their student-athletes. The NCAA does provide a catastrophic injury program that comes with a $90,000 deductible. This coverage is for the most serious injuries and covers all student-athletes across all divisions of competition. All student-athletes are required to get health insurance with policy limits that are up to the $90,000 deductible of the NCAA catastrophic injury program before they are allowed to participate in collegiate athletics. It is important to understand what your school offers with respect to health insurance coverage for all student-athletes before you agree to join a team or program.
Can an Athlete Lose Their Scholarship Due to Injury?
Unfortunately, yes. All NCAA student-athletes are subject to losing their place on a team and their scholarship if they face injuries. Because of this fear, many student-athletes push themselves when rest and rehabilitation are better options in the long term. While the NCAA rules state that a coach cannot reduce a student-athlete's scholarship due to an injury, illness, or other physical or mental health condition, coaches routinely will decide against renewing athletic scholarships of players who have been injured or otherwise unable to compete. Remember, just because a school provides an athletic scholarship does not mean that they are also including medical coverage for any injuries.
Are You an NCAA Athlete Who Has Suffered an Injury?
If you are an NCAA student-athlete who has suffered an injury, you are not alone by any means. Almost 1/3 of college athletes get injured from overworking or overusing their bodies. It is important that you value your health and wellbeing as must as you value your team and university. Make sure you understand what your health insurance coverages are so you can focus on your recovery and not on your medical costs. Since student-athlete injuries are typically covered by private health insurance policies and not by the NCAA, you might feel a bit on your own when it comes to dealing with your medical issues if you suffer an injury. If you have medical insurance questions or any other questions related to the consequences of an NCAA student-athlete injury, then make sure to speak to an experienced attorney who can help.
How an Attorney Can Help
An experienced attorney can help an injured student-athlete in several ways. If your injury resulted from negligent coaching, defective equipment, or bad medical advice, then an attorney can help you seek the compensation that you deserve. The focus on properly diagnosing and treating concussions has increased exponentially in the last decade. Any student-athlete who suffers from concussion-like symptoms must be appropriately tested and evaluated before being allowed back into play. If a student-athlete was improperly diagnosed and, as a result, was more severely harmed when he or she returned to play, then an attorney can help the student-athlete protect their rights and their athletic scholarship.
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are an NCAA student-athlete who has legal questions related to an injury, then it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped countless student-athletes across the country with sports injury issues. Call us today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm is the right choice to help you with your case.