Archive for the ‘Teams/Leagues’ Category

Sport injuries off the field

The Independent Contractor or Subcontractor Limitation

Services such as concessions umpires, security, field maintenance and janitorial are typically outsourced by sport and recreation organizations as independent contractors or subcontractors.

The Independent Contractor or Subcontractor Limitation endorsement on a General Liability policy can have adverse consequences for sports and recreation organizations.

Don’t play around with independent contractors

The negligent actions of these independent contractors or subcontractors can result in the sports organization being shot gunned into a lawsuit.

The Independent Contractor or Subcontractor Limitation endorsement will preclude coverage unless the independent contractor or subcontractor maintains a General Liability policy at the time of injury, with limits equal to the sports organization while naming such sports organization as “Additional Insured.”

Protecting the organization

It is highly recommended that sports organizations require all independent contractors and subcontractors to provide evidence of General Liability insurance with limits of at least $1,000,000 combined single limits. Such policies should name the sports organization as “additional insured.”

However, General Liability coverage of the sports organization being contingent on the insurance requirement of the independent contractor or subcontractor is a risky proposition.  If the sports organization is diligent about administrative duties, an uninsured independent contractor or subcontractor could easily slip between the cracks.  In addition, a certificate of insurance is only an indication of coverage status as of the date of its issuance. Coverage could later be canceled due to nonpayment of premium with no absolute notification requirement to certificate holders.

For the reasons outlined above, it is not acceptable to allow the existence of the Independent Contractor and Subcontractor Limitation endorsement on the General Liability policy for a sports organization.

Source:  John Sadler

Assault and Battery Exclusion in Sports

Employees and volunteers vulnerable

 

Some sports General Liability policies have an endorsement entitled Assault and Battery Exclusion that modifies the terms of the original policy language.

 

The standard policy form (without the Assault And Battery Exclusion) contains an intentional injury exclusion that includes an exception for the use of reasonable force to protect persons or property.

 

The Assault and Battery Exclusion takes away coverage for any assault and battery incident committed by your employees, volunteers, or any other person.  In addition, coverage is excluded for failure to suppress or prevent an incident as well as for negligent hiring, supervision, or training.

 

Based on some of the claims filed against our team and league clients over the years, the Assault and Battery Exclusion would have had unacceptable coverage consequences had it been in existence.

 

We have seen several lawsuits alleging assault and battery resulting from a coach attempting to break up a fight.  In one incident, a coach broke up a fight by pulling one 8-year-old boy off of another.  The lawsuit alleging assault and battery claimed that the coach injured the boy that he pulled off the top of the other boy.

 

We have also seen a number of other lawsuits against leagues, volunteers, and administrators arising out of fights between coaches, umpires, and spectators.  In many cases, the coaches and umpires are actually the physical aggressors against spectators.In some of these cases, the plaintiff’s attorney ran a background check and found that the defendant had a criminal background involving a crime of physical violence.  As a result, the sports organization and its board were shot gunned into the lawsuit under the theory of negligent hiring.

 

The above common examples would likely trigger the Assault And Battery exclusion resulting in no insurance coverage and the possible taking of both assets of the sports organization as well as personal assets of the individual defendants to satisfy the judgment.

 

In my opinion, the Assault and Battery Exclusion should be removed from a sports or recreation General Liability policy.

 

Source:  John Sadler

Photo credit: Guiseppe Barranco/The Enterprise

Reducing the risk of ACL injuries

Is prevention the best medicine?

 

You’d be hard pressed to find any youth soccer, basketball or football team that doesn’t have at least one player with an ACL injury.

ACL diagramThe anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, stabilizes the knee and is highly susceptible to injury during high impact sports. As the popularity of youth sports continues to grow, so does the number of teen and young ACL injuries. How can this be minimized?

Training for prevention

Young athletes receiving universal neuromuscular training is proving to be an effective deterrent to ACL injuries, according to a recent Columbia University Medical Center study. The training teaches athletes proper bending, jumping, landing and pivoting techniques. The study focused on 10,000 “at-risk” athletes between the ages of 14 and 22. The results showed an average reduction of 63 percent in ACL injuries in those who received universal training.

Screening for ACL weaknesses also helps reduce the number of ligament sprains and tears, but reduced the rate by only 40 percent.

Counting the costs

The estimate to run a universal training program for coaches and players is about $1.25 per day, according to the study researchers. ACL reconstruction can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $17,000.

“According to our model, training was so much less expensive and so much more effective than we anticipated.” said orthopaedic resident Eric F. Swart, the lead author of the study

While preventive training and screening might sound like the best option, screening is a high-cost variable if implemented on a team-wide basis.

Source: “Universal neuromuscular training reduces ACL injury risk in young athletes,” Medical Xpress. 14 Mar. 2014.

Set Up a Sex Abuse/Molestation Protection Program (Infographic)

Create a Hostile Environment

Whenever a sexual abuse/molestation (SAM) incident occurs, a civil lawsuit will likely be filed not only against the alleged perpetrator, but the organization, officers, board and others for failure to adequately screen staff, failure to implement policies and procedures to prevent an incident, and failure to appropriately respond to an allegation. Most insurance carriers that write SAM coverage on sports organizations won’t offer the coverage unless the organization has implemented certain controls that impact these areas.

Most sports and recreation organizations rely exclusively on running criminal background checks on all staff with access to youth. While this is required by case law and is a minimum level of due diligence, the effectiveness of solely relying on criminal background checks is questionable. This is because studies indicate that only about 5% of all predators have a criminal background that could even be discoverable upon running a background check. Therefore, the question becomes what is your sports organization doing to protect against the other 95%?

What it should be doing is educating administrators and staff to create a hostile environment for predators, implementing simple policies and procedures, and implementing an allegation response plan that requires notification of law enforcement.

 

SAM

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Many sports organizations get into SAM risk management by just shooting from the hip and running background checks without putting much thought into the entire process and what can go wrong along the way. Below are potential risks organizations expose themselves to when no proper SAM risk management program is in place:

  • Slander, libel, and invasion of privacy lawsuits against the organization if background check results are not kept confidential.
  • Illegal questions on staff application form and consent to run background check form.
  • Unequal treatment of different candidates and resulting litigation due to lack of predetermined, written disqualification criteria.
  • Failure to properly understand the nature of a conviction on a criminal background check and misclassification of the offense.
  • Failure to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other similar laws.
  • Failure to have written policies and procedures in place to make an incident less likely to occur.
  • Failure to have allegation response procedures in place, including a requirement to notify law enforcement.

Sex Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program

We recommend that a sports organization implement our written Sex Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program which provides important administrator and staff education on the topic and protects against the above mentioned pitfalls. This program is available as a Microsoft Word document format (7 pages) entitled Sample Abuse/Molestation Plan that can be easily customized for a specific sports organization.  Current Sadler clients should access the latest and most up-to-date version of this document under the password protected section after entering the password  provided with their proof of coverage email upon binding of coverage. On the other hand, sports organizations that are not current Sadler clients should access this document under the unrestricted access section of the webpage available to general public.

However, we realize that some sports organizations may not want to adopt and implement our recommended SAM risk management program even though it is incredibly simple and we have already done just about all the work on their behalf. For these organizations, we offer a 1-page SAM risk management program that provides a basic educational program for administrators and staff. It includes written policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur and provides instructions on how to appropriately respond to an allegation. This 1-page SAM program can be found in our risk management library  under the document entitled Child Abuse/Molestation Protection Program – Administrators (short form).

Educational videos

In addition, we offer the following free educational training videos to our clients, which can be found under the password protected section of our risk management page:

  • How To Implement An Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program – Administrators (14 minutes)
  • Abuse/Molestation Awareness Training – Administrators and Staff (28 minutes)

Protecting your league from injury claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all teams and leagues? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your organization. Having the right insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Purchasing the ight insurance coverage does not have to be complicated. The SADLER insurance experts understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your organization. Learn more about liability prevention by calling us at 800-622-7370, or apply for a customized insurance quote online now. There are absolutely no obligations, and most quotes will be sent in just a few hours. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, what have you got to lose?

 

Online Training for Youth Sports Administrators

Volunteers need program management skills

Typically, volunteer administrators who supervise youth sports programs are unprepared to deal with the responsibilities of this position. This can result in inefficiencies, legal problems and adverse publicity.

Volunteer trainingThese individuals wear many hats and manage numerous league job functions such as equipment, safety, insurance for teams, background checks for staff, social media, marketing, as well finances and legal matters.

The National Youth Sports Administrators Association has an online training program that provides education in these areas and assists with making youth sports a safe and satisfying experience for all involved.

John Sadler assisted with the course development on the insurance section. See our NYSCA-endorsed team/league sports insurance program. 

Source: Sporting Kid; Fred Engh; Summer 2012

Accident Insurance and Baseball

Spectator injuries not covered by Little League policy

New Jersey’s Elizabeth Lloyd, is suing for more than $150,000 in damages after being hit in the face by a baseball. Although Matthew Migliaccio was only 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, but 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.

-John Sadler

Source: Insurance Journal, June 26, 2012

A Reality Check for Youth Sports Administrators

Learn from the Paterno, Spanier, Curley and McQuery mistakes

This blog post isn’t specifically about the Penn State case and who was or wasn’t fired. Rather it’s a reality check for all involved with youth: no one is invincible. Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Mike McQuery did not commit the physical crimes against children that Jerry Sandusky did.  However, they were responsible and liable for their own actions when there is even a hint that someone is abusing a child.

The Penn State case is making national headlines because of its legendary coach and its football program, but it’s important to understand that such behavior occurs frequently in youth sports.  Most readers of this blog are involved in teams/leagues/youth programs in sYouth sports risk managementome capacity or another. Are you a coach, athletic director, team mom or a parent on the sidelines?  Whatever your position, today is the day to step back and realize where exactly you fit into the lives of the kids participating in your youth sports organization.  You are there to protect them at all costs.

Our previous blog post, Child Predators in Youth Sports, is a must read for anyone who is involved with children. It includes a link to a Sports Illustrated article written with the help of actual predators in youth programs detailing how they got away with their crimes. Did you know that, according to the article, studies have found that the average molester victimizes about 120 children before he is caught? That’s extremely disturbing! The blog post also offers useful risk management guidelines that your organization can implement today. And share this post with others so that we all can make a difference.

Follow this link for more articles on preventing sexual abuse and molestation.

Why Do Field/Facility Owners Require Being Named on Sports Insurance Policies?

Field / facility owners such as recreation departments, school districts, schools, and municipalities often allow outside user groups to use their premises under a lease or permit. These relationships are beneficial to all parties involved. However, field / facility owners expose themselves and their insurance carriers to liability arising from injuries that may occur on the premises arising out of the lease or permit. This is true even though the injury may be due to the 100% negligence of the outside user group.

Field / facility owners are almost always shot gunned into these lawsuits as a deep pocket even if they are 0% at fault. The defense costs and possibility of settlement or adverse jury verdict can be very expensive. This can result in unbudgeted out of pocket expenses (in event of self insurance or large deductible insurance program) or in a large loss that is paid by their insurance carrier. When these losses are paid by insurance carriers, such insurance carriers may non renew or may ask for large rate increases. Therefore, field / facility owners have a lot to lose when they make their premises available to outside user groups.

It makes sense that the group that is responsible for the injury and resulting lawsuit should be financially responsible for paying the damages. Therefore, prudent field / facility owners require outside users to carry their own insurance that meets certain minimum standards that are drafted by risk managers or attorneys employed by the field / facility owner.  Such insurance requirements specify the types of policies to be carried, minimum limits of coverage, and special coverage endorsements such as “Additional Insured” status for the premises owner.

Requiring outside user groups to be financially responsible for their own injuries and lawsuits is a good business practice. Even high limit insurance is surprisingly affordable and easy to obtain when reputable sports insurance and event insurance specialists are contacted.

Insurance Discounts for NYSCA Coach Training

Team/Leagues can benefit from coach training and certification

Teams and leagues that train or certify their coaches through National Alliance for Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA) qualify for a discounted team/league insurance program with specially negotiated coverage enhancements. The NYSCA Insurance Plan through Sadler Sports Insurance offers high limit, high quality Accident and General Liability coverages at discounted prices. The insurance carriers recognize that trained or certified coaches are less likely to have injuries or lawsuits and are willing to offer lower prices and coverage enhancements.

Qualifying sports include non-scholastic, youth (ages 18 and under) T-ball, baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, golf, swimming, tennis, track & field, volleyball, flag/touch football, cheer, ice hockey, roller hockey, ice ringette, lacrosse, and wrestling.

Some of the special coverage enhancements include $100,000 Excess Accident Limit, $2 million General Liability Limit, No General Aggregate Limit, Sex Abuse/Molestation Coverage, Non-Owned and Hired Auto Liability, and no-Volunteer v. Volunteer exclusion.

Optional coverages are available for Directors & Officers Liability, Crime, and Equipment.

What if your coaches are not currently trained by NYSCA? Getting set up for training is easier than you may think. The NYSCA clinics, available on-site or online, are not only going to take some of the work off of the organization that hosts the training, but also provide tried and true risk management techniques that will protect the organization, the coaches and the kids.  My suggestion would be to work this into your current coaches’ training, whether all at once or one sport at a time.

Visit the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) website to learn more. Click here to find detailed coverage descriptions, as well as the enrollment form to get your organization’s protection plan started.

Ownership and Management of Athletic Fields

An exclusion to avoid

It is clear that all sports and recreation organizations have liability for incidents that occur during scheduled, sanctioned and supervised activities such as tryouts, practices, and play.

However, some sports organizations that own or are long term lessees of athletic facilities are also legally responsible for injuries that occur on a 24/7 basis for 365 days a year. Ownership triggers the liability for premises owners. Lease agreements with hold harmless and indemnification provisions trigger the liability for long term lessees.

If your sports organization has 24/7 liability as described above, you should avoid the endorsement entitled “Ownership, Maintenance, Management of Athletic Fields or Facilities Exclusion” and any similar exclusion. As an alternative to removing this exclusion, some sports General Liability carriers allow a buy back that is commonly called “24 Hour Premises Liability.”