Missouri Injury Lawyers Blog
Missouri Injury Lawyers Blog

Football and Head Injuries: Not Just for the Pros

by Christian L Faiella, May 19, 2015

Football is one of the most popular sports in the United States.  Unfortunately, every year too many children suffer injures to the head while playing football.  21% of all the traumatic brain injures among American children can be attributed to sports and recreational activities; and, although it is rare, brain injuries are the leading sports related cause of death.

Traumatic Brain Injury is caused by a blow or jolt to the head, or penetration.   These can be severe or mild.  It is relatively easy to diagnose a severe brain injury.  Two players collide and one looses consciousness.   You call the ambulance.

However, the mid TBI may not be so obvious.  The child may be dizzy or “out of it” for a few moments, but can rally himself to finish the game.  Should he go back in?  What if he has blurred vision, headache, nausea, or has memory loss?  Those are all symptoms of a brain injury. 

Young people are particularly susceptible to concussions because their brains are still developing.  If they suffer an injury to their brain, they need more time to recover.    If they don’t, they can suffer permanent brain damage.

While there are many situations that can lead to a concussion, football has a high concussion rate among its million plus youth players.  The statistics belie the seriousness of the problem because many of these injuries are not recognized.

All 50 states have legislation to address the issue of sports injuries in children.  In Missouri it is know as the “Interscholastic Youth Sports Brain Injury Prevention Act.”  The law deals with education about injuries and requires: 

  • A youth athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or brain injury in a practice or game shall be removed from competition at that time and for no less that twenty-four hours.
  • A youth athlete who has been removed from play shall not return to competition until the athlete is evaluated by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions as defined in the guidelines developed under subsection 1 of this section and receives written clearance to return to competition from that health care provider.

The Missouri law also requires school athletic organizations to publish “an annual report relating to the impact of concussions and head injures on student athletes which details efforts that may be make to minimize damages form injuries sustained by students participating in school sports.”

The purpose of these laws is to prevent and identify youth sport related injuries; however, not all are prevented or addressed appropriately. 

Unfortunately, sometimes children are injured because of the carelessness of adults who are responsible for keeping kids safe while they are engaged in sports. In some cases children and young adults have been harmed by being put back in the game after an injury or the athlete has no received appropriate care and injury has resulted.

If your child suffered a head injury playing football or another organized sport, call an attorney at Tatlow, Gump, Faiella and Wheelen for a free consultation. 

Sources: 

  • Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, www.health.mo.gov
  • A Neurosurgeon Tackles Brain Injury in Youth Sports, by Dr. Alexander Powers, www.wakehealth.edu
  • Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri Chapter 167.765 and 167.775. 
  • Stanford Children’s Health, www.stanfordchildres.org

 

 

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TGFW Partner Sidney Wheelan speaks to Missouri Lawyers on Ethics, Mediation and Hot Topics Regarding Automobile Collision Cases

by Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC, April 28, 2015

Sidney Eckman Wheelan, a partner at Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC in Moberly, Missouri, spoke to Missouri lawyers on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, on Ethics, Mediation and Hot Topics regarding Automobile Collision cases in a 2-hour interactive Telephone Seminar sponsored by the Missouri Bar.

Sidney has extensive experience handling automobile collision cases involving serious personal injury , wrongful death and the complex issues of insurance coverage that often arise in this type of litigation.   She works frequently with other lawyers to provide guidance and share expertise in this area of the law.

Whether this is your first experience with an automobile collision case or you want to maximize the final recovery for yourself or a client, I urge you to speak to one of our experienced attorneys at Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC.  We have the experience, expertise and resources to obtain the best possible outcome for our clients. 

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Fast Food Falls

by Cassie J Carpenter, April 23, 2015

Approximately 50 million Americans are served daily at fast food establishments across the nation.  With all the foot and automobile traffic produced by service to 50 million people, it should be a top priority of each restaurant to properly maintain safe parking areas, sidewalks and other surfaces outside buildings.  As many people have discovered, however, that is not the case.    Parking lots with large holes, crumbling sidewalks, and poorly maintained handicapped parking areas have become common.   

Most municipalities have adopted a version of the International Property Maintenance Code or have implemented other similar municipal codes that regulate the maintenance and up-keep of parking areas and sidewalks.  These types of codes and ordinances exist to ensure public health and safety.   In addition to codes and ordinances, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has rules for property owners to ensure public accommodations are made for people with disabilities, which includes properly maintaining handicapped parking spaces, ramps and other assistive accommodations. 

Despite the existence of these codes, ordinances and federal regulations, these restaurants continue to neglect maintenance resulting in trips, falls and injuries to their own paying customers.  If you or someone you know has fallen and/or been injured as a result of neglected property or poor maintenance, you should consider contacting at attorney, or call Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLC for a free consultation    

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Summer Camp Injury and Liability

by Christian L Faiella, April 17, 2015

You expect when you send your child to summer camp that they will have a fun memorable time.  Maybe they will suffer from a little homesickness. You don’t expect them to be seriously injured, but it can, and does, happen.  Injury is the leading cause of death in children; and, according to the CDC, there are an average of 9.2 million nonfatal injuries to children per year.  While these don’t all occur at summer camp, thousands of children are injured at summer camp every year.   

Most injuries at camp occur during structured camp activities.  Ineffective or improper protective equipment, such as damaged lifejackets, is a cause of many injuries.  Because there is no state regulation of summer camps in Missouri, it is up to the camp to regulate itself.  The protective equipment can withstand a lot of use and abuse in the course of a summer and needs to be inspected regularly and replaced as necessary.  Many injuries can be avoided by simply monitoring the equipment and making sure it is used properly.

Proper supervision by staff is a key component in camper safety.  It is the responsibility of the directors of the camp to make sure the staff they hire is qualified and properly trained. 

In 2011 a fifteen year-old boy drown at a camp in Michigan.  The staff had the children swimming in a lake at 10:00 pm in violation rules prohibiting swimming in the dark.   It is the duty of the camp to make their staff aware of the rules imposed for the camper’s safety.

In another horrifying case, counselors and lifeguards at a swim camp were completely oblivious to a drowning 4 year-old boy.  He lay motionless, floating in the pool for over 8 minutes before the lifeguard finally took notice.  Once the boy was pulled from the pool, his life could have been saved had they used proper CPR.  However, despite it’s own rule that staff be certified and current in CPR, neither the lifeguard nor the aquatics director who attempted to administer it had that certification. 

These cases are not solitary and go to show the importance of a camp that not only implements safety rules, but follows them as well.  Having a staff trained in CPR, water safety and lifesaving, disease prevention, as well as areas specific to the camp is vital to the health and welfare of the campers.

While prevention of injury is the goal, children do get hurt.   A determination must be made in each individual case as to whether an “accident” was actually the result of someone’s negligence or misconduct.  If your child is seriously injured at summer camp, call Tatlow, Gump, Faiella and Wheelen for a free consultation.

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CHILDREN AND WAIVERS OF LIABILITY

by Christian L Faiella, April 16, 2015

Summer is coming and with it summer activities for children.  Sports, swimming lessons, summer camp are just some of the fun things our children like to do in the summer.  As parents, we are presented with waivers, disclaimers, release of liability forms, and other similarly named documents.  In these documents we agree not to sue or to “hold harmless” the providers of activities or camps in the event that our children are injured.  When you sign these, are you really agreeing not to hold them accountable if they injure your child?

The effectiveness of waivers varies from state to state.  In Missouri releases of liability are not affective in cases where the conduct is willful, intentional, or beyond mere negligence.  They are also not generally favored so they are “strictly construed” against the person or entity receiving the benefit.

In Missouri the release must be “clear, unambiguous, unmistakable, and conspicuous” to release someone from their own future negligence.  The language must be understandable to the average person.  A parent reading the release should be able to readily ascertain that it is a document exonerating the other party from liability if, due to their negligence, that parent’s child is injured.  If you need a law degree to understand it, it probably doesn’t meet the standard.   It can’t be hidden.  If the language releasing someone from liability is difficult to find in the document, it may not be invalid.   

When it comes to children, there is some question in this state whether a parent can waive liability for the child’s injury.   But the same rules apply.  The release still cannot waive willful, intentional, or grossly negligent acts and must be clear and conspicuous.

If your child is injured and you have signed a waiver or release, do not assume you have no recourse.  Consult an attorney who handles cases of injured children.  At Tatlow, Gump, Faiella and Wheelen, LLC we have experience representing injured children and their parents.

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SUMMER CAMP SAFETY

by Christian L Faiella, April 15, 2015

As the last two months of the school year roll around, many parents are looking for summer camps for their children.  Those of us who attended summer camp look back at the fun, activities, and friends, not appreciating the apparent and not-so-apparent dangers that go with the experience.  However, as parents we need to be proactive and aware of the risks.  Before you send your child off the summer camp, here are some things of which you should be mindful. 

While many states do regulate and license summer camps, Missouri does not.  That certainly does not mean that you should not send your child to a Missouri camp.  There are many camps in this state that provide a fun, healthy, and safe experience.  You just need to do your homework and ask questions. 

Get references and speak with other parents.  They have been where you are now.  Ask about their child’s experience.  How easy is it to contact and speak with the staff?  Is their child going back to the camp?

Ask questions of the camp directors and staff.  Of course, you will have your own concerns relating to your child, but the following are some topics you should explore:

  • Staff training.  How are the counselor’s trained by the camp and what type of experience and training do they bring to the job? 
  • What is the staff to camper ratio?
  • What is the minimum age of counselors?  What is the screening process and how are they selected?
  • What are the sports or activities?  Some activities have inherent dangers and you need to find out what steps are taken by the camp to mitigate some of those dangers.  Is there swimming?  In a pool or lake?  Are the counselors instructed on lifesaving and CPR?  Are the campers instructed not to dive into a pool less than 10 feet or any lake?  Is that warning posted?  If they are in a lake do the campers wear life jackets?  Some camps provide horseback riding, hiking, rappelling and other activities that may be new to you and your child.  Don’t be afraid to ask about the safety protocals of these programs.   
  • Medical facilities.  Is there a doctor or nurse on site?  What are the procedures in the event of illness or injury?  Is there adequate access to a hospital?
  • Criminal background checks.  Does the camp do a background check on prospective employees?  Check with local law enforcement.  Have there been complaints filed by parents regarding the camp or it’s employees?  
  • How is discipline handled?
  • How are food allergies addressed?  If you child has an allergy, what is the procedure for dealing with it? 

The American Camp Association (ACA) accredits many camps nation wide.  Camps must meet up to 3,000 standards for “health, safety, and program quality.”  Their website is a great place to find a camp.

Because summer camps in many states are not regulated, it can be difficult to determine fault if your child has been injured at a summer camp.  If you believe your child has been injured do to the bad practices or negligence of a summer camp, don’t wait.  Call Tatlow, Gump, Faiella and Wheelen, LLC for a free consultation.  

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