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Take Me Out To The Ballgame

A veteran Major League Baseball umpire had to leave a game for the second time this season because of a head injury.

This time, the incident occurred in a contest between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles in Maryland. In the bottom of the third inning, the Blue Jays’ catcher apparently misjudged a high and inside fastball. The 94mph pitch glanced off his mitt and struck the home-plate umpire in the face. Although the face mask protected him from trauma injury, the force of the blow was sufficient to cause a probable concussion. Pursuant to the sport’s head injury protocol, he was removed and replaced by a fellow game umpire, who had been at second base.

The injured umpire had to leave a game in June following a similar incident, because a foul ball hit him in the jaw.

Fact Issues in Traumatic Brain Injury Cases

Sports-related TBIs are often caused by repetitive blows which, taken individually, may not be serious injuries. For example, old-time announcers sometimes remarked that boxers were “punch drunk” in the later rounds of longer fights, because they had been hit so many times.

In contrast, negligence-related TBIs are usually the result of a sudden and severe blow. For example, the seat belts in passenger vehicles do not always keep the occupants from striking their heads on the dashboard after a collision, because of the product’s use, product’s design, person’s size, or a combination of factors. Additionally, loose objects inside the passenger compartment, like tablets and smartphones, keep travelling at their previous speed when there is a sudden collision, so in effect, they become high-speed bullets.

Altogether, about 52,000 Americans die every year as the result of a TBI. Hundreds of thousands of other victims suffer permanent or long-term injuries, including personality changes, chronic headaches, sleeplessness, and paralysis.

Legal Issues in TBI Cases

Assumption of the risk is not nearly as broad as some people believe, or as insurance companies hope. After all, victims do not assume the risk of serious injury because they drive on a highway, even though the statistical risk is roughly equivalent to stepping on a football field. Moreover, professional football players successfully sued the National Football League over head injuries. That‘s because owners and operators still have a duty to drive safely or make premises safe, whether or not the victim assumes the risk of injury.

From a purely technical standpoint, assumption of the risk has two components:

  • The voluntary assumption of
  • A known risk.

“Voluntary” implies that the participant has some leverage to negotiate and some ability to say yes or no. Many waivers are more like take-it-or-leave-it contracts of adhesion, because the terms are non-negotiable and the participants must sign the waivers to engage in the activity. These contracts are often illegal.

A “known risk” is one that is rationally related to the activity.

Reach Out to Assertive Attorneys

TBIs have lifelong consequences and involve complex legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, PA. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.

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