Archive for the ‘Risk Management’ Category

Top 5 Sports Risks Resulting in Insurance Claims

You need to know them to try to prevent them, but sports insurance still a must

Accidents can happen any time, to anyone, on and off the sports field. Many aren’t even related to playing the sport itself, and many result in serious injuries. Many can be prevented with a little attention to hot spots and putting into place proven risk management policies. However, others are just part of the game.

We take pride in offering our clients risk management advice in an effort to prevent claims.

We hope you’ll be able to avoid making the top 5 list:

  1. Wayward balls cause more claims for damages and injuries than anything else in sports. Baseballs in particular are high-speed missiles that slam into players, dugouts, spectators, cars, windows, and anything else in their path. Wild pitches, overthrown lacrosse balls and basketballs, and baseballs hit out of the park are only some of ways balls cause injuries. A real horror story to a client occurred when an assistant coach was struck in the face by a pitched baseball while warming up the pitcher. He later lapsed into a coma and died of  injuries, which resulted in total claims of $1,001,000.
  2. Falls by players, coaches, spectators, groundskeepers and officials are by far the most common sports injury. Holes in the field, slippery or wet surfaces, obstacles in or around the field, bases, field markers, and equipment cause people to fall. Falls from bleachers, benches, ladders, playground equipment, backstops, and goals are also common. Broken, sprained or twisted limbs can result in expensive medical bills and even time off work. Falls can even result result in death.  One of our baseball leagues had a claim that settled for $41,781 when a spectator fractured both ankles after stepping in a washed out grassy area of a ballpark.
  3. Vehicles of all sorts are involved in numerous sports-related claims. Many can be avoided if parking and traffic signage is displayed properly. Delivery trucks backing into concession stands, golf carts and riding mowers overturning, tents and awnings collapsing on vehicles, tractors hitting parked cars, vandalism, and balls flying through windshields are common incidents at the ballpark. One of our baseball leagues experienced a claim when a person was injured by being pinned between a scoreboard table and golf cart with a resulting settlement of $50,000.
  4. Roughhousing and unsupervised children often cause all sorts of mayhem. Playing or climbing on goals, vehicles, bleachers, gates and fences frequently ends in injuries. This includes unattended children in play areas, near water, or in wooded areas of the park. It’s also not unusual for players to swing bats or toss/kick balls in areas where others can be hurt, such as concession areas, parking lots and near bleachers. And in heated competitions, it’s not unusual for fights to break out among spectators or between players on the field. An example of this type of claim was when one of our local league clients was sued as a result of children climbing on a statue at an awards banquet, which caused $4,789 in damage to Sports insurance claimsa water fountain.
  5. Player collisions with other players, spectators and equipment occur frequently. Baseball, soccer, football, and basketball players also collide with one another on the field, often resulting in concussions, fractured limbs, and other injuries. Basketball and football players often crash into spectators on the sidelines. And it’s not unusual that players collide with teammates and coaches on the bench, down markers, goals, and bleachers. One of our clients had a situation where a youth football player was driven into a 1st down marker and fractured his arm. The insurance settlement was $75,000.

Always expect the unexpected

These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to accidents that can happen in and around sports. The examples listed on this page are expected to occur with some frequency. However, it’s often the unexpected types of claims that result in some of the largest payouts. You just never know what can happen and that’s why you must have quality sports insurance. We have a whole list of horror stories about what can go wrong on our risk management page, which also includes lots of free risk management material.

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The Rate of Abuse and Molestation in Youth Sports

How prevalent is it?

The media makes sure we know when allegations and indictments of sexual abuse take place in our communities, particularly when children are the victims. Schools, religious and recreational youth organizations are ripe for the picking by such predators.

But a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that instances of all types of abuse within youth organizations are actually quite rare. The researchers surveyed more than 13,000 children, including infants and children to age 17. The results show that less than 1 percent reported any type of abuse. And of that percentage, only 6.4 percent reported some type of sexual abuse.

The bad news

As encouraging as that is, it still means the up to 100,000 children may be subjected to sexual abuse while participating in youth-oriented activities.

The study results point out another point for concern. Of the children surveyed who reported abuse, 64 percent said the abuse was emotional or verbal, specifically saying they had felt scared or bad because an adult “called you names, said mean things to you, or said they didn’t want you.” That puts estimates at 1 million children being subjected to abuse of a non-physical nature, which is 10 times the number of those being sexually abused.

Defining abuse

It’s important to note that the statistics of abuse are never exact, in part due to underreporting of incidents, but also because of the different definitions of the word abuse. Government agencies use a legal definition, while JAMA Pediatrics’ criteria is whether the child feels he or she has been abused. In fact, the final conclusion of the study is that abuse in youth organizations is relatively rare and is dwarfed by abuse perpetrated by family members and other adults.

Preventing and combating abuse

Nonetheless, parents need to be aware of their child’s youth organization’s policies and procedures regarding screening and training of staff and volunteers. And parents should work together to make sure at least one parent is at every event, practice and game who is tasked with monitoring the behavior of staff and volunteers.

At Sadler Sports Insurance, we know that abuse and molestation incidents, while rare, result in very expensive claims and demand serious risk management attention. Our risk management page has a section with resources devoted to abuse and molestation prevention. Our resources range from a simple one-page abuse/molestation risk management program to a comprehensive seven page programs that covers all aspects from A to Z. We also have sex abuse and molestation training videos for your administrators and staff.


Source: Janet Rosenweig. “What is the rate of child abuse in schools, rec groups?” philly.com. 01 Feb. 2016.

Zip Line Safety

Lowering the risk of aerial adventures

What was once a means to access forest canopies for ecological research is now a rapidly growing adventure experience offered in many forests, amusement parks and ski resorts across the country. Many forest zip line tours continue to encourage ecology awareness and appreciation, while others are primarily promoting them as an aerial adventure to thrill-seeking tourists.

An estimated 18 million people fly via zip lines each year making it one of the fastest growing commercial adventures, according to the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT). But along with the excitement and thrills comes the risk of serious injuries if safety precautions aren’t taken and equipment isn’t properly maintained.

A typical zip line course consists of cables traversing and crossing a route that slopes downward across a forest, canyon, body of water, valley, or ravine. Access to the zip line is usually via ground-level platforms, stairways, or ladders. Participants are protected from falls with harnesses, lanyards,and clips ,and are often required to wear helmets. Speed and braking are controlled either by a guide, gravity or the participant.

The risk of injury to zip line riders is high, which is why the ACCT and ASTM are currently developing Zip line risk managementcommercial zip line safety standards. Only Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia currently have zip line regulations.

A common injury suffered by zip liners is bone fractures, which are usually caused by participants falling from the access platform or slamming into the end station. However, much more severe injuries can and do occur. The best protection is in proper management by owners/operators:

  • Design and construction: The zip line supports should be set in concrete for optimal bracing. The cable arc’s lowest point should be high enough to prevent riders from crashing into the final post. Rollers guards should be installed to prevent hand injuries. The starting platform should be protected and customers tethered while on the platform.
  • Maintenance: Regular inspections should be conducted and documented. Daily inspections should made of all starting platforms, riding seats/handles and safety harnesses. Cable tension should be monitored and adjusted as needed.  Harness and brake padding should not show signs of wear and tear. Cables should be replaced per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Supervision: Participants should take a trainer-led safety course prior to take-off and be monitored by trained staff at all times. An employee should be present at both ends of the course. Zip line guides and operators should be fully trained to screen clients, fit and inspect equipment, inspect and maintain the course,and  rescue clients and evacuate the course. Zip line employees should  also be CPR certified and trained in first aid. Minimum age and size requirements should be posted and no one not meeting the posted limits should be permitted to ride.

If you have questions or would like information on insuring your zip line, call Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance at (800) 622-7370.


Source: Lothian Law, 27 May 2014

 

Top 10 Sports & Recreation Injuries

Where’s the outrage for non-football related injuries?

I was reading through a recent list of common sports and recreation injuries and began to wonder why football and other higher risk sports get most of the negative media attention? Why not boating, bicycling, skiing, snowboarding, inflatable moon bounce, ATV, golf carts, or home injuries? Why is the media not screaming for these activities to be banned? Is the media biased against football?

To follow is the recently published list that prompts the question:

  1. Kids ages 5 to 14 made up 52 percent of football-related injuries requiring emergency room visits in 2012.
  2. The U.S. Coast Guard reported 500 deaths, 2,620 injuries and $39 million in property damage related to recreational boating accidents in 2013.
  3. Alcohol use is the no. 1 contributing factor in fatal boating accidents and contributes to 16 percent of boating-related deaths.
  4. The top five contributing factors to boating accidents are operator inexperience, operator inattention, improper lookout, excessive speed and machinery failure.
  5. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration reported 720 bicyclists killed and 49,000 injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2012.
  6. Risk of injury in bicycle sportsAn average of 41.5 people died in skiing or snowboarding accidents each year between 2002 and 2012.
  7. More than 90 percent of the 113,272 injuries treated in emergency rooms associated with inflatable amusements were related to moon bounces between 2003 and 2013.
  8. Between 1982 and 2013, 13,043 ATV-related deaths were reported.
  9. Approximately 13,000 golf cart-related accidents require a visit to the emergency room each year.
  10. In 2012 there were approximately 89,000 accidental injury-related deaths in homes and communities nationwide.

It goes without saying that good risk management practices could have prevented many of these injuries and deaths. Whether you’re competing in sports or enjoying leisure recreational activities indoors or out, safety should always be a priority. Visit our risk management page for helpful information on keeping you, your teammates, friends and family safe.


Source: Spotlight, Insurance Journal,  04 May, 2015, Vol. 93, No. 9.

Bounce House Injuries

Lack of safety regulations means bouncer beware

Bounce houses are popular entertainment at carnivals, children’s parties, and other events. But news stories about flyaway bounce houses are becoming all too common.

More than 30 children a day are treated in emergency rooms across the country for inflatable-related injuries, such as broken bones and concussions. There were more than 113,000 injuries and 12 deaths associated with inflatables nationwide between 2003 and 2013, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report.

Inflatables, which include bounce houses, water slides, and bounce-slide combinations, are not regulated nationally. Each state sets its own guidelines and some, like Florida and Nebraska, have no safety or operational standards in place.

Renters and users should be aware of the guidelines in their state and make sure the company providing the inflatable is practicing them. Ask to see the rental company’s inspection checklist and make sure they followed the printed warning labels when setting up the inflatable.

The Child Injury Prevention Alliance website offers bounce house safety tips for parents and children.

Inflatable-Bouncers-Infographic 3

 

Source:Dan Krauth, “Company Behind Bounce House That Went Airborne Involved in Another Accident,” nbcmiami.com. 08 June, 2015.

Football Leagues Ignoring Brain Injury Standards…

do so at their own peril

If your youth tackle football league and its directors, officers, and coaches are sued as a result of a brain injury to a current or past participant, under what standard of care will you be judged?

The law of negligence is based on four elements:

  1. Duty is owed to act as reasonable and prudent youth tackle football and cheer administrators and coaches by following the national standard of care regarding to concussion/brain injury protection.
  2. Duty is breached by not following the national standard of care.
  3. The breach is the cause of the injury.
  4. Damages result.

 As regards the standard of care, the courts will look to expert witnesses who will testify that the standards of care are set by the recommendations of the governing body (USA Football), National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and state concussion laws.football insurance

We have designed a concussion/brain injury risk management program for our American Youth Football and Cheer (AYF) clients that addresses most of the standards that have been set by these organizations and state legislation. See our Football/Cheer Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program (short form) in our risk management library.

If you want to see how standards work in an actual brain injury litigation case, see the synopsis and summary of the pending Chernach vs. Pop Warner lawsuit by a law firm specializing in brain injury litigation. Ask yourself how you think your local association would fare in its legal defense if a similar claim were to be filed? In my opinion, most of the allegations in this lawsuit seem to be without merit, though legal defense costs will be high. Very few of the concussion standards were in place at the time of the alleged injury and the plaintiff was exposed to high school football and 12 years of wrestling in addition to youth tackle football.

However, concussion/brain injury standards are certainly in place now. Ignore the standards at your own peril.

Transfer the Risk of Loss to Others

Don’t bear the responsibility that belongs to others

There are two common situations in which local sports organizations need to be careful to protect themselves from assuming the risk of loss (Ex: bodily injury to a spectator or player and property damage liability) that should fall upon the other party. These situations occur with field/facility owners from whom practice and playing fields are leased and with vendors who provide critical services to the sports organization.

When the negligence of these parties is the cause of injury to a third party, you want them and their insurance carriers to be responsible for providing legal defense and paying any damages. One of the best ways to achieve this result is to make sure that you have a contract in force with them that specifies this outcome. Of course, this simply requires a review of  your lease and vendor services agreements and occasional negotiation of provisions regarding insurance requirements and hold harmless/indemnification.

Below are two articles that provide clear instructions on how to deal with these two situations:

Before You Sign the Sports Facility Lease Agreement

Collect Certificates of Insurance from Your Vendors

Medical Emergencies in Youth Sports

CPR and first aid training for coaches is critical

Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance has always been a strong advocate of youth sports coaches and volunteers receiving first aid and emergency training. Injuries and medical emergencies can occur anywhere, at anytime to anyone, especially in a sporting environment. Coaches and other adults in attendance during practices and play have to be able to respond in such cases. Unfortunately, only 40 percent of youth coaches have any safety training, according to a 2012 SafeKids Worldwide survey.

There’s really no excuse for such lack of training because certification classes in first aid and CPR are offered in every community for free or very little cost. It’s the responsibility of the sports organization and local community to ensure that coaches and volunteers have access to the training needed to respond appropriately to an injury or life-threatening event.

Empowering your volunteers

In particular, the education of volunteers in safety procedures strengthens the sports program. Volunteers offer their time and energy in so many capacities. They should be given the tools they need to be an even greater help, which means safety training or recertification at no cost to them. And it’s important to remember that coaches and volunteers serve as safety role models for the youth with whom they’re working. Older athletes should be encouraged to register for CPR and first aid certification courses, as well.

No matter what sport you’re involved with, the unexpected can occur. Here are a few examples of emergency situations where immediate administration of first-aid made all the difference to the injured person.

  • An Alabama high school football player collapsed during the first practice of the season. Coaches and the athletic trainer sprang into action, quickly determining a case of cardiac arrest after seeing no signs of concussion, heat stroke or dehydration. The trainer used the school’s AED while waiting for EMTs to arrive on the scene. The teen survived, thanks to the safety training his coaches had received.
  • An Oregon varsity high school basketball game was unexpectedly interrupted when an official collapsed on the court. Quick thinking staff, students and medical professionals in the stands rushed to his aid, administering CPR until an ambulance arrived.
  • An 8-year-old youth baseball player collapsed after being hit in the chest by a batted ball. It was his good fortune that two off-duty paramedics who were in the stands were able to administer CPR until paramedics arrived and transported him to the hospital.

You can’t count on there being someone nearby who will know what to do in a medical emergency. Whether the injured person is one of the athletes, a trainer, an official or a fan in the stands, the coaches are who people will look to for help in an emergency.

Getting the necessary training

The American Red Cross offers CPR/AED training as well as specific first aid, health and safety training for sports coaches. Because CPR techniques and use of AEDs on children and adults differ, it’s important that coaches receive training for medical assistance for both age groups

The National Alliance for Youth Sports encourages all volunteer coaches get CPR training. Their website offers member coaches access to a first aid and CPR section full of safety information, including how to develop an emergency action plan. NAYS also offers free concussion training for coaches and volunteers.

Special Events May Require Special Coverage

Safety should be priority No. 1

Many for profit and not for profit organizations hold special events throughout the year. These can be tournaments, banquets, marathons, fundraisers, award ceremonies or simply family days that include fun activities and entertainment. A lot of planning and organization are required to ensure these events are successful. One element of the planning stage that should never be overlooked is determining whether your insurance program includes the coverage needed for a safe event for everyone involved – hosts, participants, volunteers, vendors and guests.

There are risks involved in hosting and managing special events that may require either added short-term or annual coverage. Beyond checking with your agent as to whether your event is adequately protected, below is a list of areas that require particular attention during the planning stages.

Vendors

Vendors can include caterers, tent and equipment rentals, concessions, security, and parking attendants. It’s important to research your vendors well because poor service or a mishap on their part can spoil an entire event – think of the potential consequences of a collapsed tent or food poisoning. It’s critical that each of your vendors provide you with a valid certificate of insurance evidencing General Liability with a limit of at least $1 million each occurrence and that they can add your organization as an additional insured on their policy.

Venues

It’s not unheard of for the actual venue of an event to be a factor that causes an accident or injury claim. Stages can collapse, fire exits get blocked, and severe weather can trigger the need for fast evacuations. The more knowledge you have about the number of people attending the event, the electrical equipment needed, and potential for severe weather, the better prepared you will be. For indoor events, make sure you know the emergency protocols of the building, which includes knowing where all the fire extinguishers, exits and stairwells are located. For outdoor events, be sure the terrain and any light/sound rigging are properly installed. Monitor the weather in the days leading up to the event as well as during the event – storms can pop up unexpectedly with disastrous results. There are weather apps for smartphone that can alert you to severe weather watches and warnings.

Emergency Planning

Every event should have a unique emergency plan which all staff and volunteers receive and sign that they have read it. The emergency plan should include who has the authority to shut the event down or ask a vendor to vacate. Sudden storms, a shooter in the area, or a vendor with a lapsed permit are only a few examples of when someone may need to make an on-the-spot decision.  The emergency plan should also include a protocol for announcing a closing or changes in the event programming. It goes without saying that all event staff and volunteers should be familiar with the event emergency plan, to include medical emergencies, lost children, crime and severe weather.

Security

Security often is something that tends to get “overlooked” because it doesn’t generate income. However, security should be considered an investment that reduces your risk of liability, which is just as good or even better than income. Below are some security tips that can make for a much safer event for everyone involved.

  • Volunteers are a great resource, but don’t use them for security enforcement purposes, such as dealing with unruly people, enforcing parking or alcohol regulations, or providing first aid. It’s best to have trained medical and law enforcement professionals handling these duties.
  • Using teachers, senior/varsity athletes and other community leaders is also not a good idea when it comes to maintaining order in the crowd. These temporary-authority figures aren’t always respected by others when they’re out of their element.
  • If you pay for professional security, don’t scrimp. Going with the cheapest security service may not be your wisest decision. Are their employees simply hired staff or trained personnel? Ask what types of sports events and what size crowds can they handle. Ask for examples of situations they managed to control and get references.

Sadler offers Special Event insurance and one of our insurance experts would be happy to help you determine what coverage your event needs. Call us today at (800) 622-7370 or simply request a quick special event insurance quote online now.

The Positive Impact of Concussion Awareness

Reporting and treatment in youth football on the rise

Injury data taken from the county’s largest youth football organization, American Youth Football (AYF) paints a bright picture. The data indicates that recent increased awareness and education of administrators, coaches, parents, and players is resulting in greater concussion identification and more aggressive medical treatment and follow up.

According to claims data from the AYF-endorsed Accident insurance plan, the rise in incidents of concussions to total injuries reported began in 2011. This coincides with the media’s first reports on high profile concussion lawsuits and alarming injury studies. The trend continued in 2012 and 2013.

Percentage of concussions to total injuries:

2005 – 2010       6.7%  average
2011                11.5%
2012                16.4%
2013                16.4%

What the numbers mean

This is concrete evidence that educational awareness and concussion recognition, treatment, removal, and return to play protocols Concussion diagnosisare having a positive impact on protecting youth, according to John Sadler, president of Sadler Sports Insurance. In the past, many concussions were missed or ignored. When concussions were identified, parents tended to self-treat with a wait-and-see approach. Now, many more concussions and potential concussions are being identified with more emergency room visits, diagnostic tests, and follow ups with concussion experts who are critical in helping parents and athletes making return-to-play decisions.

Education is critical

We believe and statistics prove that the more you know about concussions, the better prepared you are to deal with them. We encourage you to read our other articles on concussions, which include information on American Youth Football’s concussion risk management initiatives.