Ill. High Schools Must Now Provide Insurance for Student-Athletes
All high schools in Illinois must purchase catastrophic injury insurance up to $3 million for all student-athletes by January 1, 2014, under a new law signed Sunday by Gov. Pat Quinn.
The new legislation, known as "Rocky's Law," was named after Rasul "Rocky" Clark, a former high school running back who became paralyzed after suffering a spinal cord injury during a football game in 2000. Clark passed away in 2012 after his family ran out of insurance money.
"Rocky Clark was a fighter, and this new law—Rocky's Law—is a tribute to him and all the years he fought to protect young athletes across our state," the governor said in a statement. "Rocky is an inspiration to us all and he wanted to ensure other students are educated about playing it safe on the field. I am honored to sign this bill, which should provide more comfort to sports families across Illinois."
The law requires all public and non-public school districts to provide catastrophic accident insurance coverage with aggregate benefit limits of $3 million or five years (whichever comes first) for student-athletes who sustain accidental injuries while participating in school-sponsored sports. Families will be responsible for the first $50,000 in medical costs, and the schools' insurance policy will cover the rest.
Officials estimate the cost of the new legislation at no more than $5 per athlete, per season, according to the Chicago Tribune. The schools will be required to pay those insurance costs under the new law.
State Sen. Napoleon Harris, one of the bill's sponsors, called the passage of the bill a "victory" for student-athletes and parents. Harris, who played in the NFL before becoming a state senator, said, "Rocky Clark's story could have been me," according to the Tribune.
Schools or districts that already require student-athletes to provide their own insurance are exempt from this new law. By November 1, those schools or districts must submit proof to the state high school athletic association that their insurance program complies with the required levels of coverage.
Photo: Rocky Clark, a former Illinois high school football player who became a quadriplegic after his neck was broken while being tackled during a play in 2000, is cared for my his mother Annette Clark in his home, in Robbins, Ill. Clark, who played football for Eisenhower High School in Blue Island Ill., was remembered Sunday Aug. 4, 2013, at the school as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation which will be known as "Rocky's Law." The law requires public and private school districts to provide catastrophic accident insurance for students who are injured while participating high school-sponsored or -supervised athletic events. (M. Spencer Green/AP-File)
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