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updated: 4/24/2013 5:39 PM

Schools may need catastrophic accident insurance for athletes

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  • Rob Komosa, who was paralyzed in a 1999 Rolling Meadows High School football accident, for years called for districts to carry catastrophic accident insurance that would have covered the cost of his care.

       Rob Komosa, who was paralyzed in a 1999 Rolling Meadows High School football accident, for years called for districts to carry catastrophic accident insurance that would have covered the cost of his care.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- Some Illinois school districts would have to carry catastrophic accident insurance to cover student athletes like former Rolling Meadows High School Rob Komosa under a plan approved by the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

Komosa died earlier this year but pushed for the insurance requirement after a 1999 accident during high school football practice paralyzed him. The school district didn't have insurance to cover his injuries, so to cover his medical bills, Komosa sued Northwest Suburban High School District 214 and received $12.5 million in a settlement.

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The plan approved Wednesday in the state Senate would require schools to carry insurance covering the cost of injuries up to $5 million or three years, whichever comes first. Districts could carry their own insurance or enter a group plan the Illinois High School Association would be required to organize.

Schools that require students to have their own health insurance to play sports wouldn't have to carry their own coverage.

The legislation was approved by a 47-7 vote and now moves to the Illinois House. It was sponsored by state Sen. Napoleon Harris, a Chicago Democrat who formerly played in the NFL.

He brought the plan because of an accident similar to Komosa's. Rocky Clark of Robbins died last year at age 27 after being paralyzed playing high school football.

His mother told senators last month how the financial hardship of caring for her son worsened the already weighty emotional toll of his injuries.

"I took care of my son until the day of his demise," Annette Clark said of her son, who became friends with Komosa after their injuries.

Some lawmakers have raised concerns about increased costs of insurance for school districts, but some of those concerns were relieved by changes Harris made to the legislation.

"The lady who lost her son certainly personalized the need for this bill," said state Sen. Bill Haine, an Alton Democrat.

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