Monthly Archives: March 2014

How a school sports waiver can complicate liability claims

Some of our California readers may have already heard the story about the Massachusetts football player who is currently in a coma and believed to have suffered brain damage because of his involvement in the sport. This isn’t the first time his story has captured national attention, but because of the circumstances surrounding his injuries, his case could be raising questions about liability and whether his parents will be able to take legal action against the school district down the road.

The liability complications are rooted in a sports waiver the young man’s parents may have signed. As many San Francisco parents know from their own personal experiences, these sports waivers often relieve school district of any and all responsibility when it comes to sports-related injuries. Depending on the wording of the waiver, it may even preclude liability claims in the event of negligence, which would be disconcerting to any parent.

But what’s worth pointing out is that these waivers do not protect against accusations of gross negligence. Different from regular negligence, gross negligence applies when an individual deliberately or recklessly acts in a way that they know or should know can cause harm. But because the school district in this case cannot comment on the wording of the sports waiver or whether the parents signed such a waiver, it’s unclear whether the family will even have the ability to seek compensation for their son’s sports-related injuries even if negligence is a factor. If they can prove gross negligence, it’s possible that they could still have a case.

Although this story is ruled by another state’s jurisdiction and may not have the same outcome as here in California, it’s still worth noting that residents here in our state could run into similar legal complexities. And without proper help, victims and their families might not receive the outcome they may want.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Navy player’s brain injury not caused by contact,” Don Markus, March 24, 2014

Researchers find sleep loss causes brain damage in mice

There are a lot of ways that a person can suffer a brain injury. From slips and falls to motor vehicle accidents, a brain injury is often caused by a sudden impact to a person’s brain. This has always been the long-standing belief held by millions the world over. But researchers at the University of Pennsylvania may have turned this assumption figuratively on its own head.

With their research, scientists wanted to answer one question: could sleep deprivation be having a more significant impact on our bodies than we realize? To answer this question, researchers put mice on a sleep schedule that mirrors that of shift workers, such as truck drivers. By changing how much sleep they got and how long they stayed awake for, researchers say they activated a response mechanism in the mice’s brains that could lead to problems.

According to researchers, the bundle of nerve cells called the locus coeruleus, which is associated with alertness and cognitive function, produces a protein that protects nerve cells during periods of sleep loss. But if losing sleep becomes a habit, this reaction shuts down, which can actually lead to brain damage. In fact, the mice that were part of the study showed a 25 percent loss of neurons in the locus coeruleus.

Researchers admit that further researcher will need to be conducted on humans in order to prove that this form of brain damage is happening in humans as well. But so far, the research might be raising some concerns in the minds of our California readers about their own work schedules and whether they have suffered brain damage as a result of lost sleep. Unfortunately, because of the lack of research, the questions you raise might be difficult to answer anytime soon.

Source: CNN, “Shift workers beware: Sleep loss may cause brain damage, new research says,” Ben Brumfield, Mar. 19, 2014

Failure to yield to pedestrians leaves boy and babysitter injured

A serious pedestrian accident here in San Francisco this month is once again highlighting the many dangers in our city, even in crosswalk areas. Some of our readers may have already heard about the crash that left a 5-year-old boy with a head injury and injured the leg of his babysitter. Officers with the San Francisco Police Department say that the pedestrian accident was a direct result of a driver failing to yield to the two Californians when they entered the crosswalk. Police have cited the driver for this infraction.

Although the victims were taken to the hospital for non life-threatening injuries, it’s entirely possible that the outcome could have been very different. If we take a look back at past pedestrian accidents, we see that this collision could have resulted in fatal injuries. It’s also possible, depending on the extent of the current victims’ injuries, that they could experience temporary or even permanent disability as a result of their injuries.

It’s because of these facts that might lead the babysitter and the parent’s of the 5-year-old boy to file personal injury claims against the negligent driver. Though reports do not indicate if this is the plan at this time, it’s still worth noting that this is an option they may consider. Looking at past cases, they may see that compensation received in a settlement can help pay for expensive medical bills and other treatments down the road. And, in the case of the babysitter, it can even help with lost wages as well.

In the end the hope is that both victims recover from their injuries and receive the compensation they deserve.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, “Babysitter, boy hit by car crossing S.F. street,” Kale Williams, Mar. 11, 2014

California student injured by car while crossing street

The most important aspect of many San Francisco residents’ lives is their children. Parents expect their children will be safe when they send them off to school, and it can be devastating when that is not the case.

Recently, for example, a California student was injured after a motor vehicle accident occurred outside the student’s high school. The student was crossing a street at the time, when a car struck the student. As a result, the student suffered a leg injury that required the student to be taken to the hospital, although it was unclear what the extent of the student’s injuries were after the incident.

Typically, when individuals are injured by a car while the person is crossing the street, the person may have a cause of action to assert against the driver of the car. If the injured person can show the injuries were caused by the driver’s failure to follow the standard of care, the injured person can obtain compensation for his or her injuries.

One issue that often comes up in these types of cases is whether the pedestrian was exercising his or her duty of care at the time. Many states follow what are known as contributory or comparative negligence rules, which means the injured person’s fault in the accident can reduce the amount of damages the person recovers in the accident.

There are special rules in this arena when it comes to children, however, and even with adults these determinations are always very fact-dependent. Accordingly, individuals who are injured should work with a personal injury attorney to determine what issues may arise in their case and how to best present their case in court.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, “Student struck, injured by car in South Los Angeles,” Nyree Arabian & Andrew Lopez, Feb. 24, 2014

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