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Concussions in Youth Athletes - Montana

Montana

The Montana law is found as a part of the Education Law in Chapter 7 on School Instruction and Special Programs and Part 13 Protection of Youth Athletes of the Montana Code Annotated (MCA 20-7-1301 through 20-7-1304). On May 4, 2017, Montana Governor Stephen Bullock approved HB 487, which amends Sections 20-7-1301 through 20-7-1303, extends the law to nonpublic schools and youth athletic organizations and becomes effective October 1, 2017.

The Montana law may be cited as the “Dylan Steigers Protection of Youth Athletes Act”. The law defines youth athlete as an individual who actively participates in an organized youth activity and the organized athletic activity is an athletic activity sponsored by a school or school district. “Organized youth athletic activity” means an athletic activity sponsored by a school or school district. Each school district offering organized youth athletic activities is required to adopt policies and procedures to inform athletic trainers, coaches, officials, youth athletes and parents of the nature and risks associated with head injury and concussions consistent with current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines and the Centers for Disease Control. Each youth athlete and a parent are required to sign an information form each year prior to participation in athletic activity. Coaches, trainers, and officials are required to undergo annual training. A coach, trainer or official shall remove a youth athlete in any organized youth athletic activity from play when exhibiting signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion. A youth athlete removed from play may not return to organized athletic activity until concussion related signs, symptoms and behaviors are no longer present and written clearance from a licensed health care provider is received indicating that the youth athlete has been evaluated and is capable of safely resuming participation.

Amended Section 1301 provides that a person acting in an individual capacity and not on behalf of the state or any political subdivision of the state who volunteers to assist with an organized youth athletic activity is not liable for civil damages arising out of an act or omission relating to the requirements of 20-7-1301 through 20-7-1304. This subsection (2)(b) does not apply to liability for willful or wanton misconduct.

The following definitions are among those offered in amended section 1302:

“Organized youth athletic activity” means an athletic activity organized or sponsored by a school district, nonpublic school, or youth athletic organization in which the participants are engaged in an athletic game or competition against another team, club, or entity, in practice, tryouts, training exercises, or sports camps, or in preparation for an athletic game or competition against another team, club, or entity. The term does not include recess or physical education classes conducted by a school district or nonpublic school.

“Youth athlete” means an individual who is an active participant in an organized youth athletic activity.

“Youth athletic organization” means any entity that organizes or sponsors an organized youth athletic activity.

Section 1303 of the new law extends the Montana concussion statutes to nonpublic schools and youth athletic organizations offering organized youth athletic activities.

The text of the MCA 20-7-1301 through MCA 20-7-1304 is available online at (Montana Law effective until 10/1/2017:

http://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/20_7_13.htm

The text of Montana HB 487 is available online at (amended Montana Law):

http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/BillPdf/HB0487.pdf

The following website offers additional information regarding Montana concussion law:

http://dphhs.mt.gov/schoolhealth/chronichealth/concussion-traumaticbraininjury