Athlete Fails to Prove Negligence in Sports Injury Case


Athlete Richard Davenport has failed in a bid to win damages from his coach for an injury that he says has ruined his career. The High Court has rejected his claim, stating that Mr Davenport had failed to prove liability against his coach, David Farrow.
Mr Farrow – a successful athletics coach, who is licensed by the governing body for UK athletics – had been coaching the young Richard Davenport from 1999, when Richard was 13 years old. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that the relationship was put on a formal basis by entering into a written contract dated 11 January.
The following summer was highly successful for Mr Davenport, and culminated in him competing in the World Junior Championship, coming seventh in the finals of the 400m hurdles and breaking the UK Junior record. In view of his success on the track, Mr Davenport postponed his entry into Loughborough University for a year so that he could train full time.
In October 2004, Mr Farrow took Mr Davenport to South Africa for a three-week period of high-altitude training. Mr Davenport continued to compete during 2005 but, in May of that year, parted company with Mr Farrow. In October, Mr Davenport took up his place at Loughborough, arriving two weeks before the start of term in order to train.
It was during these early training sessions at Loughborough that Mr Davenport, complaining of back pains, was sent for medical examination. MRI scans showed that he was suffering from stress fractures of the vertebrae. These injuries were treated first with rest, and then a series of operations, resulting in him being unable to compete between 2005 and 2007.
Mr Davenport’s case was that he had sustained the injuries during the South Africa training but was told by his coach to continue training as there was nothing wrong with him. He claimed that Mr Farrow failed to take his injuries seriously and, had Mr Farrow advised him to seek investigation immediately, he could have avoided surgery. Mr Farrow denied the claim, stating that the injuries had probably been sustained before October, and denied that he had been told about the back pains.
The court heard expert evidence from both sides, but this was not conclusive in dating the origin of the injuries. There was also evidence of some back pains in the years prior to 2004, although it was not clear whether these pains were an indication of the major injuries that were treated in the period 2005 to 2007.
In concluding the case, the judge held that there was insufficient proof that the injuries had occurred during the South Africa trip. Having failed to prove this point, the rest of Mr Davenport’s claim failed.
It is essential to take advice as soon as possible if you think you may have sustained injury as a result of the actions of soemone else. Failure to assemble evidence of injury can seriously damage your ability to obtain compensation.
If you have suffered an injury which is not your fault, contact us for advice.

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