An interesting investigative article was published in South Florida Sun Sentinel about the upper echelons of youth travel baseball with sections entitled bidding wars, cutthroat baseball, the parent, injuries, the owners, the prospect, the wild west, and big benefits /no guarantees. Like it or not, travel baseball has carved out a significant niche in the youth baseball market.
From a sports insurance perspective, travel teams represent an increased risk of injury and liability as compared to recreation teams due to higher level of competition with stronger bodies, higher speeds, and more risk taking; more games on schedule; travel exposure; and motel downtime exposure. Another injury risk is burned out arms from year round baseball. See report from USA Baseball Medical / Safety Advisory Committee on Youth Baseball Pitching Injuries that cites total pitches thrown per year as the number one predictor of youth arm and shoulder injuries: Youth Baseball Pitching Injuries
Source: 2013 South Florida Sun Sentinel-Sun Sentinel Investigates; Amy Shipley; Florida Sun Sentinel, March 16, 2013
The parents of a New Jersey boy agreed to settle his lawsuit for $14.5 Million against Little League Baseball, Inc., the manufacturer for Louisville Slugger bats, and The Sports Authority. The injury occurred in 2006 during a youth baseball game where the plaintiff was pitching and struck in the chest by a line drive hit by a metal bat. The plaintiff went into cardiac arrest resulting from a blow to the heart within the precise millisecond between heartbeats. This condition known as commotio cordis is extremely rare. Paramedics reached the scene within minutes and later revived the plaintiff but brain damage occurred. The plaintiff can’t perform any functions of his daily life according to his attorney.
The plaintiff alleged that the metal bat was unsafe because it produced an exit speed in excess of wooden bats. Even though the injury did not occur during a Little League game, it was argued that the bat that was used was approved, and thus deemed safe, by Little League.
See prior blog posting on commotio cordis:
My opinion: I know of no test that has shown that commotio cordis is more likely to occur at higher ball speeds as it frequently occurs at ball speeds under 40 mph. This settlement was most likely based on fear that the jury would disregard the law of negligence and make an emotional decision based on the extent of the damages. This settlement represents a significant loss for Little League’s General Liability insurance carrier and may send shockwaves through the sports insurance industry. While a settlement does not set legal precedent, this news is not good for sporting goods manufactureres and sports sanctioning bodies that approve equipment. Look for changes to be made in the labeling of stamps and for more disclaimers of liability in product instructions.
By: John M. Sadler
Source: Yahoo News
Kids who are treated for an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury more than 150 days after the injury occurred could have a higher chance of future knee injuries.
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center conducted research in children who delayed ACL reconstruction surgery, the results showing that the delay increased the risk of having a medial meniscus or chondral injury in the knee in their future.
The additional injuries can cause prolonged recovery time, hinder their possibility in returning to play, and worsen the long-term function of their knee.
The research also showed that out of 370 patients who had ACL reconstruction between 2005-2011, 200 patients were older than 15 and 170 patients were younger than 15. The study also showed children 15 or older having a higher chance of medial femoral chondral injury.
Source: Sporting Kid; Summer 2012
New Jersey’s Elizabeth Lloyd, is suing for more than $150,000 in damages after being hit in the face by a baseball. Although the young player, Matthew Migliaccio, was 11 years old at the time of the incident, the lawsuit filed in April claims that Migliaccio’s overthrow from the bullpen was deliberate and reckless.
Lloyd is filing suit to cover for medical costs, and pain and suffering, while her husband is suing for the loss of “services, society and consortium.”
The count alleging Migliaccio’s negligence is covered by the family’s Homeowner’s policy, however the other counts are not. Little League has denied any coverage, due to their accident policy only covering staff or players; spectators are not included.
In my opinion: Little League is correct that spectator injuries are not covered by an Accident policy. However, “Accident like” benefits for spectator injuries up to a limit of $5,000 can be covered if the General Liability policy includes premises medical payments. Otherwise, if damages are greater than $5,000, the only recourse for an injured spectator is to sue. Such lawsuits would be covered under a General Liability policy under the Each Occurrence section. This case is similar to one that one of our league clients had about ten years ago when a spectator was hit in the jaw by an overthrow ball during pre game warm-ups. It was alleged that the league and coaches were negligent in allowing the players to form two lines for warm-ups where one line was too close to an unfenced spectator area. The carrier settled the case for around $300,000 but the damages were extensive.
Source: Insurance Journal, June 26, 2012
“The play at the plate is one of the most exciting and dangerous plays in baseball. When the base runner, ball and catcher all meet at the same place at the same time, just about anything can happen.”
“It’s a play that has always been a part of the sport, yet occasionally rises up to spark controversy.”
“More recently, a couple of high-profile incidents have brought controversy to the play, with calls form some corners to either outlaw catchers from blocking the plate, outlaw runners from attempting to flatten said catchers, or both”.
“Marson claims that a catcher can lessen risk of injury by being smart about when he chooses to block the plate, and by being fundamentally sound when he does so. The keys, Marson says, are to stay low, with your left foot planted at the corner of the plate, pointed directly up the third base line. If the collision comes at a 90-degree angle, a sliding runner will be stopped cold. If the throw is coming from right field, Marson says, the catcher should position himself three steps behind the plate – maintaining better peripheral vision of the runner coming in from third bas – and walk into the play.”
See link below for vides of recent catcher – baserunner collision injuries.
As regards General Liability Insurance for baseball teams, the existence of a Player vs. Player exclusion brings into question coverage in the event of a home plate collision resulting in a catcher injury and resulting lawsuit against an aggressive baserunner. The player vs player exclusion would likely prohibit coverage for an overly aggressive baserunner, but not for other parties who could be vicariously liable for catcher injuries such as a team or coaches.
Source: NBC Sports – MSNBC
“…a healthy crowd has turned out to watch fireballer Stephen Strasburg throw today’s bull pen. It’s been 18 months since the Nationals star underwent Tommy John surgery - the reconstruction of that oh-so-delicate UCL - at the age of 22…. The Nationals, with their $15million starter back on the mound after a year on the disabled list, couldn’t be happier. He looks exactly the same as he did before his elbow blew up.”
“Thirty-seven baseball seasons have passed since orthopedic surgeon Frank Jobe performed the first UCL reconstruction on Dodgers southpaw Tommy John, whose name would become synonymous with the procedure…. But the two pitchers – as well as many others who have undergone UCL reconstruction — have one thing in common: a mechanical flaw in the timing of their deliveries that causes the arm to lag behind the rest of the body, putting extra stress on the shoulder and elbow.”
“Arm lag and improper sequencing were likely to blame for Strasburg’s UCL tear, as well as for those of almost everyone else knocked out by the injury. “The timing is subtle,” says the American Sports Medicine Institute’s Glenn Fleisig, who has analyzed more than 2,000 pitchers and is on of the world’s foremost authorities on pitching biomechanics. “It’s the difference between good and great and healthy and injury-waiting-to-happen.”
“The No. 1 risk factor for UCL injuries is poor mechanics,” he says. “The No. 2 factor is overuse. And if you overuse with poor mechanics, you’re doomed.”
Click on the link below for an excellent article on the exact pitching motion flaws that lead to this injury. Also, interested pitchers who want an evaluation of their mechanics should check out Glen Fleisig of ASMI.
Source: ESPN The Magazine