Archive for the ‘Injury’ Category

Horror Stories About What Can Go Wrong

Serious lawsuits and injuries can happen in your sports organization.

Spectator InjuriesAsk yourself: Are you fully protected?

Our sports insurance clients file a large number of small to medium sized claims. But, we often hear “horror stories” about serious lawsuits and injuries. Besides being an insurance advisor, I am also an attorney and I know how these “horror stories” can turn into fear and worry. Will you be sued? How will you pay the medical bills?

I wanted to share these cases with you so that you will have a better understanding of some of the risks that you may face in the running of a sports organization. Below are descriptions of actual cases from our clients, including insurance carrier payment amounts.

General Liability Lawsuits

    • Youth camper near drowning incident in swimming pool resulting in brain injury. TX $3,387,832
    • Assistant coach was struck in the face by a pitched baseball while warming up the pitcher. FL $1,001,857
    • Youth football player died from heat stroke. GA $1,000,000
    • Alleged defamation against a league vendor. VA $388,417
    • Bleacher collapse with multiple injuries. LA $362,825
    • Child’s arm caught under tire after falling off parade float. NC $345,050
    • Spectator was struck in the jaw by an overthrown ball while standing in the spectator area. Player who threw the ball was warming up outside of the playing field. LA $326,212
    • Coach accused of inappropriate conduct with minor. AL $321,000
    • Player drowned in a lake while on a team picnic outing. SC $319,403
    • Batted ball travelled through netting in L Screen hitting coach. LA $198,823
    • Spectator hit in head by line drive while standing in line. SC $196,614
    • Sponsor signage blocked view resulting in auto fatality. FL $119,867
    • Concession stand worker injured back. CT $174,794
    • Youth football player tackled by opposing player. MD $141,658
    • Player ran out of bounds and stepped in hole fracturing elbow. CA $89,996
    • Parent sued for defamation. CA $84,610
    • Children swinging on gate knock another child down. TX $82,572
    • Child sustained injuries after his arm went through a glass window. FL $77,200
    • Player driven into 1st down marker, fracturing arm. CT $75,000
    • Spectator behind batting cage hit in head by ball. FL $75,000
    • Roughhousing during team outing resulting in fractured elbow. NY $65,855
    • Parent fell in hole while walking between fields. FL $65,000
    • Spectator suffered dislocated elbow after being struck when strong winds blew a tent over. NJ $62,346
    • Spectator fractured both ankles after stepping in a washed out grassy area.  TN $41,781
    • Baseball player was hit in mouth by bat of another player while in on-deck circle. FL $41,908
    • Spectator suffered leg laceration from metal bolt protruding from bleachers. RI $40,000
    • Spectator was hit in the head by a thrown ball during warm-ups resulting in head fracture and blood clot. MS $31,300
    • Coach was struck by baseball by one of the players from another team while coach was leaving the field. LA $13,898
    • Player injured while playing in creek. TN $20,000
    • Spectator fell off the grandstand and suffered head injury. SC $4,487
    • Youth football player was scolded by coach, humiliated, and forced to quit the team. CA $19,626
    • Infant was struck in head by foul ball. FL $5,000
    • Coach was observing tryouts from bleachers and caught foot and fell tearing ACL. NJ $12,906
    • While sliding into third base, claimant suffered laceration to lower leg. OH $15,829
    • Scorekeeper hit in head by foul ball resulting in concussion. MS $6,249
    • Spectator hit in face by baseball bat that flew out of batter’s hand. SC $5,078
    • Person injured when pinned between scoreboard table and golf cart. MS $50,000
    • Driver’s vision obscured by signage, kills passerby when making turn. FL $119,867
    • Children injured in bleacher collapse. LA $81,000
    • Children climbing on statue at awards banquet damage water fountain. IL $4,789
    • Spectator amputates finger while playing on swinging gate. IL $41,739
    • Parent lacerated head after tripping on uneven walkway to field. PA $25,514
    • Football equipment fell on minor. MI $271,464
    • Child fell through bleachers. CA $136,670
    • Spectators tripped and fell walking to restroom. CT $135,000
    • Trip and fall injury to participant. IL 134,956

Directors & Officers Liability Lawsuits

  • Alleged race discrimination for not allowing a team to join a football league resulted in no judgment or settlement being paid but in legal fees. WV $24,715
  • Alleged race discrimination for not allowing a team to join a baseball league resulted in no judgment or settlement being paid but in legal fees. MS $28,912

Volunteer Thefts – Crime Policy

  • President of baseball league took money from league funds and did not repay. FL $3,230
  • Director in charge of special projects took funds from BBQ and candy sales. TX $5,861

Equipment Losses – Equipment Policy

  • Baseball insuranceWater damage to uniforms and equipment. MI $57,547
  • Fire damaged equipment and baseball items. NY $62,380
  • Theft of bleachers, coffee machine, concession stand damaged. MO $11,790
  • Theft of football equipment. CA $28,918
  • Storage trailer broken into and uniforms stolen. PA $37,688

Injuries – Accident Policy

  • Running back fractured femur. CT $58,241
  • Defensive back fractured shoulder during practice. $55,750
  • Player injured in charter bus accident. TN $46,150
  • Running back tackled resulting in knee injury. TN $31,997
  • Cheerleader fell and fractured forearm. FL $25,333
  • Player fractured leg sliding into 3rd base.  $15,866
  • Softball player fractured leg sliding into home base. MS $69,398
  • Player in dugout hit in head by foul ball. FL $81,320
  • Player’s face injured during practice when no helmets were worn. FL $99,263
  • Assistant coach struck in face by pitched baseball while warming up pitcher. FL $104,000
  • Base runner suffered tendon/ligament damage to knee as a result of contact with home plate while sliding. TX $16,953
  • Infielder suffered fractured nose as a result of being struck by a thrown ball. LA $13,266
  • Pitcher suffered a fractured elbow as a result of being hit by a batted ball. NC $10,497
  • Base runner suffered a knee injury as a result of sliding foot first into a fixed base. TX $9,495
  • Youth football player was tackled and femur fractured when player fell on him. OH $18,218
  • Youth basketball player injured knee. TX $17,159
  • Adult soccer player suffered detached retina. CA $19,522
  • Adult soccer player suffered ACL tear. NV $18,872
  • Player breaks arm in fight during football game. OK $63,567

You should be concerned. But, there is a solution.

The insurance programs offered by Sadler & Company provide superior protection at the lowest possible cost. Click on the “Get a Quote” button on the navigation bar at the top of this page for an instant online quote.


Situational Awareness Reduces Risk at Sports / Entertainment Events

Preventing tragedies at concerts and other public events starts with situational awareness

The recent deaths of ten people at an Astroworld concert have brought the discussion of safety and accountability at crowded events to the forefront of the event industry. People have pointed fingers at performer Travis Scott, as well as security staff and the concertgoers themselves. Lost in all of the scrambling for a scapegoat is the true million-dollar question, “How do we prevent this from happening again?”

Responsibility falls on patrons as well

Situational awareness is a big key to preventing unwanted or tragic incidents. This responsibility falls on not only those working in the event industry but on the patrons as well. Audience members should be aware of the nearest exits, pay attention to the behaviors of people nearby and be prepared to sacrifice convenience for safety. Using the buddy system can also help to decrease the odds of a tragedy occurring. 

Tips for promoting large crowd safety

For those planning and executing large events, situational awareness is not the only piece of the puzzle. As the event industry examines how to best promote safety among large crowds, there are several other points to consider. 

  1. First and foremost, the event industry must work together to get out the message that safety is the highest priority. An event like the Astroworld tragedy has the power to undermine all of the good being done in the industry. Instead of allowing the negative backlash to result in a clamber for extra regulations and oversight, this is the time to underscore the positive measures the industry has taken to  ensure safety and to focus on moving forward.
  2. When planning for an event, everyone involved should think through the motivations of the patrons. We are living in a time when people are more likely to pull out their phones to film an event than to intervene on behalf of those in trouble. And in the era of a pandemic there are new challenges in trying to predict crowd behaviors. Guidelines related to masks and social distancing can produce angry responses. Societal behaviors are changing, and the event industry must adapt accordingly.
  3. A clear chain of communication should be established between everyone involved in running a major event. This is the time to analyze all policies related to crowd management and plug any holes. Communication should be explicit between all involved parties, from the performer to venue security to law enforcement.
  4. Those in charge of major events should disclose their security measures whenever possible. This can help to reduce any public perception of flippancy regarding safety and security. Patrons should know that there are plans in place to handle medical emergencies and that law enforcement will rapidly respond in the event of any safety threat.

Terrible incidents do not need to define the event industry. Those working on events can learn from the past, focus on the positive and continue providing wonderful experiences for their patrons. 

Source: William Rabb, “Astroworld Reminds Us – Semper Vigilans.” Sports Facilities and the Law, November-December 2021.

Saliva Test To Detect Sports Concussions Could Be Available Soon

Biomarkers in saliva test indicate head trauma

saliva based test

New research out of the University of Birmingham in England has found biomarkers the saliva test available can detect concussions in men. These results for men are within minutes. The biomarkers showcase how the body reacts and changes to head trauma hours and days after the initial incident.

The University has created the first non-invasive saliva concussion diagnostic test. The results showcased a 94% efficacy in their reporting for the male athletes.

This test has the potential to be instrumental in the early detection of concussions or head injuries. It is converting it into an over-the-counter testing kit for elite male athletes in the UK. Hopefully, if successful, it will be available to the United States as well.

But what is missing from this test?

While this is a remarkable find, testing for biomarkers in saliva has not yet commenced for women and children. Ongoing research is being conducted on the differences between male versus female concussions, with some exciting finds.


The Discrepancies between Male and Female Athletes

Though the exact cause remains unclear, the findings of this study show that females are potentially at a significantly greater risk for concussions than their male counterparts.

This study involving adolescent male and female soccer athletes studied sports-related concussions and the differences between the two. In their findings, most male sport-related concussions happen with direct contact with another player. On the contrary, many female athletes suffered from sports-related concussions from nonplayer contact such as heading the ball. When a player (mostly male) had a direct contact sports-related concussion, removal of play happened the day of the injury. In contrast, the female players might have had a sports-related concussion that would have gone undetected. The reason is simply that it is easier to track direct physical contact with another player. These findings revealed that the removal of males from play is approximately 1 ½ times greater than females.

How athletic trainers handle male and female head injuries is not equal either

Interestingly, when an athletic trainer was involved in the sports-related injury evaluation from the initial onset, the odds of immediate removal from the activity were three times greater for athletes, and males had a greater removal rate than the females. This study suggests the need for significant intervention for female athletes.sports concussions

Besides immediate removal, the study showed that females had a 60% to 80% greater risk for a Sports-Related Concussion than their male counterparts. Part of this finding was due to the physiological differences between the male and female athletes.

Female athletes have lesser neck strength and overall circumference in comparison to their male counterparts. Similarly, there are differences that likely make females more prone to microstructural sports-related concussions. In addition, earlier sports specialization results in a greater chance of injury and sports-related concussions. 

 What do these saliva tests and findings mean for sports organizations and their liability?

Part of this study has shown us important facts. Just because coaches cannot see a direct sports-related concussion does not mean it does not exist or did not happen. Evaluations for female athletes need as much urgency as their male counterparts. When in doubt, immediate removal from play is necessary to reduce further risk of injury. The demand for athletic trainers for both male and female sports teams to help in the evaluation process is high. Having discrepancies and differences between the two sexes in any sports organization opens the organization up for a greater risk of litigation.

Hopefully, as the new saliva test becomes readily available to male athletes, more testing can begin on females and children. This will only better aid the organization in determining a sports-related concussion in the early stages. The next steps can then be taken to help the athlete prevent a dangerous second impact syndrome injury, whether male or female.

If you are looking for more information on sports risk management and protecting your organization, please visit our extensive risk management library of resources. It includes important forms, documents, articles, videos, and risk management program templates on how to reduce the risk of injuries as well as your insurance premiums. Pay special attention to our section on brain injury/concussion risk management.

Tracking Injuries in Professional Ultimate Frisbee

| Injury

Injury rates similar to pro football and soccer.

What we typically think of as a backyard or college quad pastime is now a sport played by professional athletes. An estimated 7 million people worldwide participate in Ultimate Frisbee teams and leagues that evolved from Wham-O’s classic plastic disc. And the sport is now officially known as Ultimate.

It’s popularity leads to injury studies by medical researchers. So far they are learning that the rate is similar to comparable pro sports, such as soccer and football. Ultimate Frisbee involves running, quick starts and stops, aerial passing, and player collisions. The dissimilarity is the lower concussion rates.

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers published what is apparently the first scientific study of injury rates among professional Ultimate Frisbee athletes. The systematic study offers knowledge on the Ultimate Frisbee types of injuries most likely to occur, the likelihood of severity and, how best to minimize the risk of injuries. The study results offer quantifiable data, which helps spot trends. Determining trends leads to reducing or preventing injuries through protective gear or changes in game rules.

“Knowing injury patterns is essential to devising prevention strategies.” said study author Matt Hess, a resident in the UAB Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

UAB’s Ultimate Frisbee injury study

Hess’s team followed 16 male professional American Ultimate Disc League teams during the 2017 season. His study modeled earlier research by co-author David Swedler of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, and studies by the NCAA and other professional league sports.

The study measured injury rates as the number of injuries for every 1000 athlete exposures. One athlete participating in one game or practice session is an athlete exposure (AE).

In nearly 9000 AEs, 299 injuries made for an injury rate of 33.36 per 1,000 AEs. This is commensurate with the rate of similar professional-level sports. The most common injuries occurred in the lower extremities, such as thigh-muscle strains, and ankle-ligament strains. Running and collisions each accounted for approximately 30% of all injuries. The good news is the low concussion rate: 0.22 per 1,000 AEs.

Researchers continued collecting injury data in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons for further study.

Source: Insurance Journal: “With Ultimate Frisbee Sport Catching On, Researchers Track Pro Athletes’ Injuries.” February 14, 2020.

Foul Ball Injuries to Spectators in MLB

Current netting standards offer insufficient protection

Over the years, we’ve occasionally tackled the topic of foul ball injuries to baseball spectators. The problem is insufficient netting along the baselines and behind home plate. In 2018, a 79-year-old woman died from the injury sustained on her birthday by a foul ball at Dodgers Stadium.

In 2014, Dwayne Sowa sat just past third base and 18 rows from the field at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. As he paid a vendor, a foul ball slammed into the right side of Sowa’s forehead. Sowa required surgery to repair a crushed bone above his right eye. Five years later, side effects plague him.

If his seat had been only a few feet further in toward home plate, he might not have been hit. That’s because the Phillies’ netting does not extend the full length of the first and third-base lines to the foul poles.

Who is doing what to reduce foul ball injuries

In December 2015, MLB recommended teams provide expanded netting to shield seats 70’ along both foul lines from home plate. But only a handful of teams followed through–until September 2017. That’s when a foul ball severely injured a little girl at Yankee Stadium. All teams then installed the recommended netting.

The Chicago White Sox led the league this year in extending protective netting all the way to the foul poles. Only 13 of the 30 MLB teams have plans to extend netting. Teams extending in the 2019 season are:

  • Chicago White Sox
  • Atlanta Braves
  • Washington Nationals
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Houston Astros

Teams extending nets by 2020 are:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Texas Rangers
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Philadelphia Phillies

The other 17 teams have not announced plans for extending their netting.

The NBC News investigation into foul ball injuries

None of the 30 teams or MLB itself would give NBC information about the number of incidents and Foul Ball injuries in baseballinjuries at their ballparks. Some teams said they don’t track that data, others said it was a privacy issue.

Nonetheless, NBC News found that MLB reported 808 fan injuries from baseballs between 2012 and 2019. The majority of the injuries resulted from foul balls. Others resulted from home runs, batting practice, and fans scrambling to catch balls hit into the stands.

NBC’s numbers are based on news reports, lawsuits, social media postings and information from the contractors that provide first aid stations at MLB stadiums. The numbers are most likely much higher.

Bob Gorman, author of “Death at the Ballpark,” is sure of that. “I think the teams know it. I think they’ve intentionally downplayed it” he said.

The impact of a hit

Baseballs are hard and about the size of a small fist. Major league baseballs fly off the bat at 100 mph or more. It only takes about a second after leaving the bat to hit a fan at that speed. Who has the skill to catch that? Former Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones doubts he would.

“Even if I’m watching a game, and a 105 mph foul ball comes at me, and I’m ready for it, there’s still a good chance I could miss it,” he said.

The conditions of the ballpark, the equipment and even the technology of the game have changed. Players are stronger than ever, the pitchers throwing faster, and the balls coming off the bat harder. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the number of foul balls per game has increased by 10 percent since 2000.

Fans can’t be expected to pay attention to every minute of the game. They buy food from vendors in the stands, watch instant replays and entertainment on the large screens, keep their eyes on the scoreboards, and constantly look at and take pictures with their phones. In addition, the tempo of the game allows for fans to chat and cheer with seat mates, which keeps their eyes off the field.

What’s ahead?

Sowa initiated legal action against the Phillies but dropped the case after his attorney cited the longstanding “Baseball Rule.” Every ticket is stamped with the disclaimer that reads “the ticketholder assumes all risk, danger and injury incidental to the game of baseball…”

Sowa doesn’t attend baseball games anymore out of fear of being hit. He hopes all 30 teams will eventually extend their protective netting out to the foul poles. Because he looks forward to taking his 5-year old son to a game one day.

Source: Tak, Nguyen, Enoch and Lehren. “Foul balls hurt hundreds of fans at MLB ballparks. See where your team stands on netting.” 01 Oct., 2019.

AYF Releases Tackle Injuries Report

Deciphering the statistics

American Youth Football (AYF) is the largest youth football organization in the U.S. and represents a wide cross section of participants aged 5 to 15.  Between 2005-2018, AYF’s endorsed insurance provider, Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance, has collected information on 4,534 injuries.  Each injury was analyzed based on 20 different categories and data was input and reports were generated to illustrate the injuries occurring in each category.  Reports from the time periods 2005-2012 and 2013-2018 were compared to reveal trends and it was found that the results were surprisingly consistent.  Any significant trend changes will be noted under the category descriptions below.

AYF constantly reviews and monitors tYOUTH FOOTBALLhis information in an effort to better protect its participants. Should a particular area of concern come to light, more detailed reports can be run to determine if a problem exists that needs additional attention. For example, when concerns arose over the potential dangers of age-only vs. age/weight categories, a report was run that indicated that the risks of injuries in age-only weight categories was about the same as age/weight categories. As regards concussion concerns, AYF will track the frequency of concussions to total injuries over time to determine the impact of parent/player education, coach training on concussion recognition, return to play policies, and improved tackling techniques .

Due to the limitation of this study, it tends to understate minor injuries that were never reported and tends to overstate the more serious injuries that required medical treatment. However, it does represent a statistically significant overview of the frequency of injuries that occur within AYF and youth tackle football as a whole.

Below is a summary of the leading injury statistics by frequency in each category:

Absence From Play

3+ weeks 45%
1 – 3 weeks 20%
1-7 days 11%
Unknown 10%
Not specified 9%
None 5%
TOTAL 100%

Note that many of the less serious injuries were never reported as insurance claims. As a result this category tends to overstate the length of time of absence from play.

Activity While Injured

Running with ball 32%
Tackling 31%
Blocking 15%
Running without ball 6%
Shedding blocker 5%
Catching ball 3%
Passing 2%
Other 6%
TOTAL 100%

Body Part Injured

Knee 13%
Head/temple 12%
Wrist 11%
Forearm 10%
Ankle 8%
Shoulder/collarbone 8%
Finger/thumb 6%
Elbow 5%
Neck 4%
Back 3%
Hand 3%
Other 17%
TOTAL 100%

Note that head/temple as a percentage of total injuries increased from 10% (2005-2012) to 16% (2013-2018) due to the increased attention being given to concussions.

Injured Person

Football player 97%
Coach 1%
Other 2%
TOTAL 100%

Injury Type

Fracture 44%
Joint sprain/strain 14%
Concussion 12%
Bruise/contusion 9%
Dislocation 4%
Pulled muscle 2%
Dental 1%
Cut/scrape 1%
Other 13%
TOTAL 100%

Note that the percentage of fractures tends to be overstated since many of the less serious injuries (sprains, bruise/contusions,  cuts/scrapes, pulled muscles) are not serious enough to be reported as insurance claims.  Also note that concussions as a percentage of total injuries increased from 9% (2005-2012) to 16% (2013-2018).  The reason for this increase is because of the increased awareness, reporting, and treatment being sought for concussions.

Location On Field

On field 94%
Practice field 3%
Sidelines 1%
End zone 1%
Other 1%
TOTAL 100%

Injury Occurred During

Game 56%
Practice 40%
Other 4%
TOTAL 100%

A common misconception is that most injuries in youth tackle football occur during practice. The results clearly indicate that most occur during games. Furthermore, only 28% of concussions occur during practice.

Type Of Play

Offense 46%
Defense 37%
Kicking off 2%
Receiving kick off 2%
Other 13%
TOTAL 100%

Note that very few injuries occur during kickoff returns. Therefore, the  kickoff rule changes implemented by the NCAA and NFL to limit concussions during kickoffs would not be as beneficial in youth tackle football.

Position Played

Running back 24%
Defensive line 17%
Linebacker 12%
Offensive line 10%
Quarterback 9%
Secondary 8%
Receiver 5%
Kickoff returner 2%
Kickoff tackle 2%
Other 11%
TOTAL 100%


Tackled by player 28%
Tackling player 16%
Contact with ground 16%
Fell on/stepped on 15%
Collision with opponent 6%
Blocked by player 5%
Blocking player 5%
Collision with teammate 4%
Non contact 2%
Blocked from behind 1%
Other 2%
TOTAL 100%


Improper Sports Injury Care is a Leading Cause of Sports Lawsuits

Risk management and education are key to lowering the risk of sports injuries

If there’s one sure thing you can count on in sports, it’s that athletes get injured. Athletes of all ages and sizes participating in any sport from archery to wrestling risk being injured. Injuries can occur during warm-up, practice, and play. They even occur on the sidelines, in locker rooms and on the bus heading to a tournament.

However, many potential injuries can be prevented through best risk management practices. And when injuries do occur, it’s important that the proper steps are immediately taken.  Too many injury-related insurance claims and lawsuits arise out of improper attention to injuries. Sports administrators, coaches and trainers who implement the following guidelines greatly reduced their risk of liability.

Pre-injury planning

Maintain and post an emergency phone list that includes:

  • EMS, Police and Fire: 911
  • Water EmergencyEmergency contact form
  • Gas Emergency
  • Electricity Emergency
  • Site Map: include a detailed map of all fields, parking areas, buildings, and streets. Include symbols for emergency access points for EMS, first aid stations, AED’s, fire extinguishers, and utility disconnect or shut off points. List the exact name and address of the facility and the names of the closest roads and intersections. Keep this list with the first aid kits.

First Aid Kit:  Keep a first aid kit available at all practice and game locations.  Each coach should always keep a fully-stocked first aid kit in his or her vehicle.  Ensure access to ice or cold packs at all practice and game locations.

First Aid and CPR Training: Each coach and manager should provide documentation of their successful completion of a Red Cross-certified first aid and CPR training course within the past three years. (Note: First aid training and CPR may be a standard according to some authorities. However,  there is not widespread compliance within most non-scholastic, volunteer-run youth sports programs. Do not list this provision unless the organization is in full compliance.)

Emergency Information and Medical Consent Forms:  Keep either a hard copy or electronic copy available at all times in the event emergency treatment is required.

Pre-participation Screening

Some sports governing and sanctioning bodies require submission of an approved pre participation medical clearance form. Others may require an actual sports physical. The difference is that a medical clearance form can be signed by a healthcare professional based on a recent physical whereas a sports physical requires a new evaluation. There are various legal definitions of “approved healthcare professional” among the 50 states,  but generally this term includes a medical doctor (MD), osteopathic doctor (DO), physician’s assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP) or athletic trainer (AT). Non-contact sports generally don’t require preseason physicals and medical clearance forms. Note that it is not the standard in all sports to require either a pre participation medical clearance or a pre season physical.

Flexibility Conditioning, and Strength

Warming up raises the body temperature, which prepares muscles for exercise. Participants also need to stretch after the warm up.  Coaches and trainers should require engagement in standard flexibility and stretching exercises by all participants prior to practices and games.

Conditioning exercises increase physical fitness and athletic skill. Sport-specific strength training programs are fundamental to an athlete’s development and success. Instruction on and implementing reasonable and age-appropriate conditioning and strength training programs are key to injury prevention. However, strength training with weights is normally not encouraged for athletes aged 12 and younger.

Emergency Weather Plan

In the event of lightning, follow the 30/30 lighting rule. Suspend all outdoor play with appropriate Lightning 30-30 ruleevacuation whenever the time between lightning strike-to-thunder clap is under 30 seconds. Do not resume play until thunder ceases for 30 consecutive minutes. If no fully-enclosed buildings are on-site, evacuate players to vehicles.  Please see our “Lightning Safety” article for more detailed information on this subject.

Tornado warnings require immediate suspension of all outdoor play with appropriate evacuation to appropriate shelter. Underground shelters such as storm cellars and basements offer the best protection from a tornado. However, other shelter options to consider are:

  • A small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible of a sturdy building. Baseball dugouts, tents, and sheds are not appropriate shelters.
  • Rooms constructed with reinforced concrete, brick or block with no windows and a heavy concrete floor or roof system overhead.
  • Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias and gymnasiums, which have flat, wide-span roofs that can be ripped off in high winds.

Avoiding Heat Illness:

Educate all staff and players on pre-activity hydration and the prevention of heat illness. We encourage use of our article “Heat Illness: Avoidance and Prevention” to satisfy this requirement.

Be prepared to postpone or reschedule practices or games to avoid peak temperatures. Ensure that water and/or sports drinks are readily available. Schedule mandatory fluid breaks during practice and games. Modify the duration, intensity, and equipment usage during practices as necessary. Likewise, modify the game rules to allow unlimited substitutions.

Make use of the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), which is the new standard for decision making. Keep a WGBT meter on site or use the Weather FX app, available on iTunes and Google Play.

Create and always follow an emergency action plan for participants who do become ill from heat. Include plans for EMS access to the venue. When a player presents symptoms of heat stroke, call immediately EMS and start cold water immersion while waiting for their arrival. A cold water immersion tub should be available on location. It does not need to be expensive as a Rubbermaid container or plastic kiddie pool will work.

Concussions/Brain Injury

We highly recommend the sports organization adopt and implement our Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program as part it overall risk management program.

Post Injury Treatment

  • First Aid: No staff member administering first-aid should exceed the scope of his or her training. Stabilizing and preventing the injury from worsening is the purpose of first aid. After achieving stabilization, allow medical professionals provide all further treatment. Provide EMS with participant’s Emergency Information and Medical Consent Form.
  • Medical Emergency: Call 911 if immediate attention is necessary. Refer to the site map when speaking to EMS to provide clear instructions about the location of the facility.
  • Parent Notification: Notify parents/guardians immediately when a treatable injury occurs.
  • Notification of Risk Management Officer: Notify your RMO who initiates documentation of the injury.
  • Return to Play: Require players treated by a medical professional to provide a written return-to-play clearance form from one of the medical professionals listed in the Pre-participation Screening paragraph above. However, note that some states and governing bodies will only allow MDs and DOs to sign such a form after a concussion. Do not put pressure on players to return too early. Honor the instructions of healthcare professional. 
  • Concussions: Follow the removal, treatment, and return-to-play protocols that can be found in our Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program.

Risks of Tents, Canopies and Umbrellas at Events

Collapsing and fly-away shelters can cause bodily injury and property damage

Tents, canopies and umbrellas are popular shelters and sun shades at sidewalk sales, farmers’ markets, craft fairs, cookouts and sporting events. Unfortunately, it’s all too common to see such equipment inadequately secured. The risk of injuries is great, and property damage can also result when these shelter frames buckle and collapse or they go flying in a gusty wind.

In July 2018, umbrellas sent flying by wind gusts impaled people at Maryland and New Jersey beaches. A number of our sports insurance clients experienced similar mishaps with canopies that blew into spectators and resulted in significant injuries.  

As a matter of fact, one of them recently shared what happened at their youth soccer event:

Opening ceremonies were taking place at the local YMCA on a clear and cloudless morning. Suddenly,  a tornado-like wind burst on the scene. An unstaked canopy went rolling in the air, the legs hitting both a small boy and a woman in their heads. The woman required major surgery on her crushed forehead and she sued the YMCA. The YMCA in turn sued our client because he supplied the canopy. The YMCA did not have secondary insurance covering injured players and participants. Following this tragic event, this soccer league took no more chances. It banned canopies and tents at their games and events, and only allowed hand-held umbrellas.

Best risk management practices for canopies, awnings, tents and umbrellas

Make sure that the people erecting and taking down canopies are not distracted. A poorly-secured canopy is as dangerous as an unsecured canopy.  

Canopy weights should be attached to canopies at all times. Weights should be secured in such a way as to not create a separate safety hazard:

  •      Anchoring weights should not cause a tripping hazard
  •      Ensure weights are attached securely and tethering lines clearly visible
  •      Weights should not have sharp edges that could cut people passing by
  •      Anchor the weights should be on the ground; never hang them overhead

Sufficient weight is at least 24 lbs. per leg. One canopy manufacturer recommends a minimum of 40 lbs. on each corner of a 10’x10’ tent; double that on a 10’x20’ tent. Umbrellas should be anchored by a 50 lb. weight.

Even properly-secured canopies can be precarious in inclement weather. Determine if weather dictates that canopies should be taken down during an event. If so, direct bystanders to stay clear in order to prevent injuries.

Proper canopy anchors

  • Fill 2.5 gallon buckets with cement and tie one to each canopy corner  with a rope or bungee. Do  not place the buckets on the feet of the canopy.
  • Purchase vertical sandbag weights specially designed to be strapped to the canopy legs. Make sure weights are a minimum 24 lbs. each.
  • Fill PVC pipes capped on one end with cement. Attach one to each canopy pole securely.

Improper canopy anchors

  • A gallon of water weighs 8 lbs. Therefore jugs of water are not heavy enough to anchor a canopy in a gust of wind.
  • Tents, canopies or umbrellas tethered to tables, coolers or vehicles make for tripping hazards and are not sufficiently weighed down.
  • Sandbags that don’t sit upright and can’t be securely tied to the tent or canopy should not be used.
  • Tent stakes are tripping hazards and typically do not provide enough anchor in strong wind gusts.
  • Cinder blocks are hard, easy to trip over, and are all too often the cause of broken toes and shins.


Obviously, it’s best not to erect an umbrella or canopy on windy days. However, if you must, choose one of high quality.  An umbrella made of cheap plastic and a flimsy aluminum frame will not hold up in high winds. Always anchor canopies and tents as directed above.  

Beach umbrellas should always be tilted into the wind and anchored securely.  See the video below for information use of umbrella anchors. You can also purchase sand weights that are made especially for anchoring umbrellas.

We offer other important risk management articles to help lower the risk of liability at markets, festivals and out door events. We also encourage you to call us at (800) 622-7370 if you have questions or to receive a quick quote.


Golf Carts as Transportation (Infographic)

| Injury

Sharing the road raises safety issues

Each year, about 13,000 golf cart-related accidents require emergency room visits, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, and that number rises year after year just as their popularity does. Nearly half of those accidents involve children under the age of 16, half of which are caused by a fall from a moving golf cart.

Apparently, many news reports of such accidents use the term ‘freak accident,’ according to Krisopher Seluga, a mechanical engineering and safety expert. “It’s not. It happens all the time,” he said.

The science behind the numbers

Studies conducted by Seluga using golf carts and child-size crash test dummies suggest that many ejections occur during left turns. Children, according to Seluga, are susceptible to falling because of their small size and lower center of gravity. Younger children aren’t strong enough to hold on to the railings that help adults, which actually acts as a fulcrum for them. It causes them to go up and over during a left turn, increasing the risk of a head-first landing.

Seluga suggests forbidding anyone whose feet don’t rest on the floorboard to ride unless they’re seat belted in.

On the flip side, the safety benefits of seat belt use in golf carts are disputed by Fred Somers, the secretary for the National Golf Cart Manufacturers Association. Somers argues that people need to be able to exit the cart quickly in the event of a rollover, which could result in passengers being crushed if there isn’t a crush-proof canopy installed. Seluga is not aware of any deaths caused by rollovers in which riders were wearing seat belts, but agrees expecting golfers to wear them on the golf course is unrealistic.

Golf cart regulations

The Low Speed Vehicle category was created by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in 1997 as more and more golf carts began being driven on the streets.  Vehicles capable of reaching 20 to 25 mph are required to have seat belts and other safety devices.  NHTSA includes golf cars and personal neighborhood vehicles in this category.

Golf carts used on the streets that go slower than 20 mph are the most popular because they’re more budget-friendly and aren’t regulated unless specific local or state governments have implemented laws or ordinances.

In my opinion

The majority of golf cart accidents that we see in the sports context involve injuries from a golf cart striking a pedestrian.  We have also seen claims arising from accidents involving youth operators transporting spectators from parking areas to ball fields.  The infographic below focuses on golf carts being driven on the golf course. However, the principles are the same when operating a golf cart in any environment –  John Sadler

Golf Cart Safety by Metrolina Carts.

Preventing Paintball Injuries with Risk Management Strategies

| Injury

Critics attack and the industry responds

Paintball continues to be a wildly popular game played by millions of people of all ages in the U.S.  Nevertheless, it’s subject to considerable controversy by critics who believe paintball involves a particularly high risk of serious injuries.

The game involves guns that use compressed carbon dioxide to propel small paint-filled pellets that burst upon contact with an object. The paintball pellets can travel at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour – that’s nearly 300 feet per second.  There are an average of 56 air and paintball gun-related emergency room visits every day nationwide. Children under age 17 make up approximately 60% of those visits. Males are five times more likely to suffer paintball injuries requiring a trip to the ER.

Paintball Injuries

The most serious injuries include eye injuries, ear injuries, and even death. Paintball’s most common minor injuries include cuts, welts, and bruising. Sprained and twisted ankles also occur, and there are reports of players suffering breathing difficulties after being shot in the throat.

Eye injuries make up an estimated 85% of all paintball injuries, many of which can lead to permanent visual impairment, even vision loss. Nearly half of these reported Paintball injuryeye injuries occur in children. Reported paintball-related eye injuries include hemorrhages, corneal scratches, detached retinas, cataracts, and commotio retina (bruising and swelling of the retina).  ANSI-approved safety goggles should be worn at all times on the playing field and shooting range.

Ear injuries are one of the most common paintball injuries. Being shot on or near the ear from close range can lead to cauliflower ear, a ruptured ear drum, tinnitus, permanent or partial hearing loss, and even concussion.

Paintball-related deaths are rare, but can occur. The CPSC issued a paintball gun safety warning in 2004 following reports of two deaths associated with carbon dioxide canisters detaching from paintball guns. In separate incidents the canister flew off and hit a participant and a bystander.

Preventing Paintball Injuries

Basic risk management steps paintball facility owners can take to prevent participant and bystander injuries include:

·       Participants should be at least 14 years old

·       Participants  should undergo pregame safety orientation that includes safety rules, equipment use, and course layout

·       Qualified referees

·       Operator to supplied ANSI-approved safety goggles and other protective equipment

·       Player-supplied eye goggles undergo testing prior to play

·       Use of proper footwear, such as hiking boots or athletic shoes

·       Posting of signage to mark required boundary areas and eye goggle and safety zones

·       Strict enforcement of all safety requirements such as wearing of eye goggles

It’s advisable that all paintball facility operators carry General Liability Insurance with an each-occurrence limit of at least $1 million. Contact us online or call us at 800-622-7370 for a quote.

Source: David Goguen. “Paintball Injury Lawsuits.”