Skip to Main Content


Out there in the real world, one athletic trainer experienced the following:

I was introduced to the real potential of legal liability early in my career. At the end of a private high school lacrosse game, a sore loser took his frustrations out on one of my athletes. The opposing athlete flung the ball at our athlete as he was removing his helmet. The ball struck our athlete in the jaw line. Besides a painful jaw, no other signs or symptoms were displayed. Still, the mechanism of injury was a high-velocity object thrown at close range, and I suggested that the athlete be examined. The athlete's parents were not present, but his girlfriend's parents were. They said his father was playing golf, and they were happy to take the athlete to the emergency department and pick up his father on the way. Note that this occurred before everyone had a mobile phone. On Monday morning, I was called into the Dean's office. Present were the Dean, the school's attorney, the father of the athlete, his attorney, and the girlfriend's parents. I was asked to explain my actions and why I had let the girlfriend's parents take his son to the hospital. At the end of the conversation, the athlete's father was extremely upset that his golf game had been interrupted for a minor injury because his son's jaw was not fractured. He demanded compensation for his round of golf. All parties agreed to this settlement, and I was taught the valuable lesson of always having professional liability insurance in the event that legal proceedings should arise.

A. S. Woody Goffinett, MBA, ATC, AT, EMT-T, FF

Dayton Sports Medicine Institute

Dayton, Ohio


learning outcomes

After working through this chapter, you will be able to:

  1. Identify the laws that govern athletic training.

  2. Identify the consequences of violating the laws of athletic training.

  3. Describe the basic terminology and legal aspects of athletic training and practicing as an athletic trainer (AT).

  4. Identify and describe precautions that can be taken to avoid legal issues when practicing as an AT.


Tim Gillfoil, Jr., is a 17-year-old junior football player. Three weeks into the football season, his father dies. His father was his biggest supporter so, when returning to football 2 weeks later, it is a big adjustment for him. At that week's Friday night home game, Mr. Gillfoil suffers a concussion. He has minor symptoms but is unable to return to the game. The following Monday, the AT gives Mr. Gillfoil an ImPACT test to assess his condition. These results will be compared with baseline scores obtained before the beginning of football season. Two weeks after the concussion, Mr. Gillfoil is scoring normal on the ImPACT test, but he ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.