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Entries in youth sports (3)

Friday
Nov202015

Header Rules: Class Action Lawsuit Changes Youth Soccer

Injury AttorneyConcussion Attorney

 

 

by Thomas Cecil

(818) 907-3292

 

 

Recently, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and other youth soccer leagues agreed to issue new guidelines, including recommending the banning of “headers” for players under 10, in settlement of a class action lawsuit over concussions brought by parents of several youth soccer players.

Concussion LawyerNational Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human ServicesThe lawsuit arose out of mounting evidence that youth soccer players, especially girls, are at risk of significant brain injury from concussions suffered while playing soccer. According to the lawsuit: “soccer ranks among the top sports in the number of concussions per game. Female soccer players have a higher per-game concussion rate than male players.” 

Unique to soccer is the use of the head to direct the ball towards another player or to the goal, an action known as a header. The plaintiffs contend:

"Headers" can be a violent striking of the ball, sometimes with such violent impact that spectators wince and the sound of the impact carries through the stands. At least 30 percent of concussions in soccer are caused by heading the ball or by attempting to head the ball and colliding with a player, object, or the ground. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a concussion is:

a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells. 

As stated in its Concussion Information Sheet made available as part of the CDC’s Heads Up Concussion program,

Children and teens who show or report one or more of the signs and symptoms listed below—or simply say they just “don’t feel right” after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body—may have a concussion or other serious brain injury. 

The observed behavioral signs include: 

  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness; or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down.” 

Impact of Youth Sports

Scientific evidence shows that the brain of a child or teenager is more vulnerable to long term damage from repetitive concussions, yet youth and high school sports tend not to provide adequate medical supervision. A New York Times health writer states:

The young brain is especially susceptible to concussion, and sports-related concussions account for more than half of all emergency room visits by children aged eight through 13, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. A child who suffers a concussion is one and a half times more likely to experience another, and those who have had two concussions have a threefold greater risk of the same injury happening again.

According to the class action lawsuit, “about half of all high schools have access to an athletic trainer, but very few have an athletic trainer present on the sidelines or on call to help identify concussions during play.” 

Sports Injury AttorneyIn the terms of settlement, the USSF, US Youth Soccer Association (USYSA), and American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), among others, will issue new guidance including a recommended ban on headers for U-11 and younger players, and a time limit on heading for U-11 to U-13.

Concussion education for coaches, referees, parents and athletes will be established. Some guidelines will be mandatory – such as the removal of a youth player from practice or a game where the player may have suffered a concussion and the need to follow certain protocols before that player will be allowed to return to play. Return to play and new substitution guidelines are also included in the settlement.

While the results of the class action lawsuit are a step forward in protecting young athletes from serious long term brain injuries, it remains to be seen whether banning heading will appreciably reduce the number of concussions.

Again, from the New York Times:

Among girls, soccer is associated with the highest risk — 6.7 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures, according to the academy study. Although many focus on the hazards of heading the ball, a new study of high school soccer players found that contact with another player was by far the most frequent cause of concussions among female and male players. 

Excellent helpful concussion resources for youth and high school sports, including brain injury basics and a number of relevant fact sheets for identifying and managing concussions, are found at:

CDC Heads Up

http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/index.html

HEADS UP to Youth Sports: Parents

http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/youthsports/parents.html

Concussion Information Sheet

http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/pdfs/youthsports/parent_athlete_info_sheet-a.pdf

Thomas Cecil is a Brain Injury Attorney and Shareholder at our firm. Contact him via email: tcecil@lewitthackman.com, or by phone: (818) 907-3292.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Swim Safety Tips: Pool Accident Prevention & Liability

Personal InjuryAccident & Injury Lawyer

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

School's out, temperatures are more or less climbing, and many are headed to the pool for some summer fun or just to seek relief from the heat.

But did you know that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports about 300 drowning deaths for children under five years old, annually? In addition, approximately 2,000 other small children need treatment in hospital emergency rooms because of near-drownings.


Swimming Pool Injury Lawyer

That doesn't mean older children and adults are accident proof at the pool. And it doesn't mean pool-goers are only susceptible to drowning dangers.

Accidents at pools can occur because of electrical shocks from pool equipment, underwater lights, nearby audio or television equipment, and extension cords. Speaking of extension cords, watch out for tripping hazards. Additional slip-and-fall injuries may be caused by wet decks and tiles – more serious falls can result in concussions and potential drowning.

Pool chemicals can cause problems too – 25 children were injured recently, because a water park employee shut down a pump but did not turn off the chlorine system, causing a massive dump of chemicals into a wave pool.

Pool Accident Liability

When someone is hurt at a pool, whether public or private, the pool owner may be held liable because of premises liability, negligence, or products liability. The owner or operator must take reasonable precautions to prevent drownings and other injuries.

These precautions include installing complete fencing, posting warning signs, providing proper supervision and the proper maintenance of the pool, equipment and surrounding areas to keep visitors safe.

Many California cities have special ordinances requiring specific standards be met by pool owners. In Los Angeles, for example, there are city requirements to be met for zoning, building and glazing pools. Fencing must resist certain wind and seismic loads; drains more than 12 inches wide must be covered by approved anti-entrapment grates.

If the above requirements are not met by a pool owner and a drowning or other accident occurs, the owner may be liable for negligence per se, or negligence involving a violation of specific laws.

Pool Safety Tips

There are a number of steps both pool owners and pool users can take to avoid accidents and injuries. The basic ones include alert supervision, minimizing alcohol use, and learning CPR. But here are some more specific ones:

1. Watch, WATCH, WATCH! Children can go underwater very quickly, and can drown in less time than it takes to answer a phone call. Seventy-seven percent of drowned children were reported out of sight for less than five minutes, according to the CPSC.

Additionally, children should be supervised by swimmers. A mother in Texas recently lost three children because she couldn't save them from drowning at an apartment complex pool.

Pool Safety2. Ensure the number of people supervising is proportionate to the number of people swimming. A four year old in San Diego died after a pool party at a yacht club, where only one life guard was on duty for a kindergarten class.

3. Watch for Dry Drowning symptoms: Hours after a near-drowning incident, the victim may later succumb to "dry drowning" or "secondary drowning".  What's happening in these situations isn't an actual drowning, but a form of pneumonia – the inhaled pool water irritates the lungs, which then produce fluid.

Nearly drowned victims, or parents of these victims should pay close attention to someone having difficulty breathing, coughing or vomiting. The symptoms may appear shortly after the near-drowning incident, as in the case of a 10 year old boy who died of dry drowning recently; or up to 48 hours afterwards, according to some medical experts.

4. Keep children away from pool drains, which can create strong suction forces.

5. Ensure all pool equipment is properly maintained, and that all surrounding areas are free of obstacles that may cause pool users to slip, causing injuries to the back or limbs, head concussions and subsequent drownings.

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him by phone: (818) 907-3230, or by email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Friday
Feb272015

Head Injuries: Protecting Players in Youth Sports

Personal InjuryConcussion Injury Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

A recent study by the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention revealed this: Coaches who underwent training by USA Football's Heads-Up Football program are better equipped to prevent player injuries.

In fact, youths playing for these trained coaches were 34 percent less likely to sustain concussions during practice and 29 percent less likely during a game. Researchers studied players on 100 teams playing in 10 leagues in several states. Though the youth football study did not factor in the types of helmets worn, independent physicians confirmed whether or not the players sustained concussions.

Youth Sports InjuriesESPN Poll: 87% parents polled concerned about youth sports injuries; 80% with coach behavior.

A more controversial study of 42 retired National Football League players by Boston University found that participants who began playing football before age 12 performed significantly worse in tests measuring verbal IQ, reasoning/planning, and memory loss. (Critics claim the sample size was too small – and that those tested played youth football from the 1960s through the 1980s when rules for safety and equipment were less strict.)

That being said, there's been a lot of talk recently about the effects of injuries, particularly head trauma, in both youth and professional sports. Mostly the discussion centers on football – but soccer, skiing, and other activities can prove equally dangerous when kids aren't supervised well, and when they lack the proper safety equipment.

According to USA Today, emergency rooms most commonly treat young athletes for strains and sprains, followed by bone fractures, and then contusions. Concussions are fourth on the list of common sports injuries for kids, but they can be the most damaging in the long run.

What's being done to minimize the risk of sports injuries for our kids?

Youth Sports: Tackling Safety in California Laws

Sports Injury LawyerAn existing California law covering all scholastic sports is already on the books. Education Code §49475 mandates that student athletes suspected of having a head injury will immediately be removed from athletic activities for the remainder of the day, and not be permitted to return until cleared by a licensed health provider. Students who do have concussions must complete seven day or longer graduated, return-to-play protocols.

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2127 last July, which amended §49475 and added Education Code §35179.5. The new regulations limit high school and middle school football teams to two, 90 minute, full-contact practices per week, to be held only during the pre-season and regular seasons. The new law specifically prohibits full contact football practice during the off-season.

When Helmets and Sports Laws Fail

The laws above regulate scholastic sports, but other athletic organizations that operate outside of the academic realm are facing serious personal injury litigation.

Here in California, the national Pop Warner league is being sued for teaching players to tackle "head first", which technique the claimants allege have resulted in catastrophic spinal cord injury. The league had rules banning that type of tackle, but claimants allege Pop Warner failed to ensure the coaches complied with the rules. In this case, the tackler was 13 when he sustained his injury in 2011, and is now a quadriplegic.

In another suit filed in Wisconsin, a mother of a 25 year old who committed suicide alleges her son's concussions sustained while playing Pop Warner football led to post-concussion syndrome and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Pop Warner isn't the only organization facing litigation.

A class action lawsuit filed by parents and players against the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA, an international governing body of soccer), U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization was filed in a California district court last summer because of the way these organizations deal with concussions.

The suit does not seek financial damages. It seeks an injunction to force FIFA and the other leagues to change the way they deal with concussions. FIFA has guidelines to prevent and treat concussions, but does not have actual rules, much less any enforcement of such.

Given the rising concern over sports injuries by parents and players over the last few years, hopefully FIFA and other sports organizations will soon take heed.

 

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him by phone: (818) 907-3270, or by email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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