Personal Injury Updates

Information about Personal Injury in Washington State

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Monthly Archives: June 2012

National Athletic Trainers Association's (NATA) Annual Meeting

Categories: Events

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

This week is the 63rd National Athletic Trainers’ Association Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposia in St. Louis, Missouri.  I am invited to present a mock trial demonstration of an athlete that suffered catastrophic traumatic brain injuries because of sports-related concussions  that were not properly managed on the sidelines or in the exam room.   Following the mock trial I will join a panel of the nation’s leading medical and neuropsychological experts to debrief on the medical-legal issues regarding  concussion management.

In addition to this presentation, I will also participate in the NATA’s formal press/media release on “Preventing Sudden Death in Collegiate Conditioning Sessions.”  Since 2000, 21 National Collegiate Athletic Association football players have died from cardio-vascular events as a result of full-intensity workouts.  My role will provide insight to the legal issues for athletic trainers, doctors, coaches, school administrator on the importance of proper standards of care to prevent preventable traumatic brain injuries and other preventable traumatic medical events.

For more information regarding the new guidelines, visit www.nata.org.

Unintentional Injury is the Leading Cause of Death for Kids in the U.S.

Categories: Other Physical Injuries

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

The CDC recently came out with a study that found that unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for kids aged 1-19 years. [1]  The CDC analyzed mortality data from 2000 – 2009 from the National Vital Statistics System by age group, sex, race/ethnicity, injury mechanism and state.  The study contained data that is both alarming and encouraging:

  • From 2000 to 2009, the overall annual unintentional injury death rate decreased 29%
  • The rate decreased among all age groups except newborns and infants aged <1 year; in this age group, rates increased from 23.1 to 27.7 per 100,000 primarily as a result of an increase in reported suffocations
  • The poisoning death rate among teens aged 15–19 years nearly doubled, from 1.7 to 3.3 per 100,000, in part because of an increase in prescription drug overdoses
  • Childhood motor vehicle traffic–related death rates declined 41%; however, these deaths remain the leading cause of unintentional injury death in age groups 5–19 years, accounting for 67% of unintentional injury deaths and 28% of deaths from all causes among those aged 15–19 years in 2009
  • Drowning, other transportation, fire/burn, fall, and all other unintentional injuries also showed significant linear declines, whereas both suffocation and poisoning showed significant linear increases (30% and 80%, respectively)
  • Mississippi had the highest unintentional death rate for kids aged 1-19 in 2009, with 25.1 deaths per 100,000, more than twice the national average
  • Massachusetts  had the lowest unintentional death rate for kids aged 1-19 in 2009, with 4.0 deaths per 100,000
  • Delaware had the biggest decrease – its overall unintentional injury death rate decreased 51% from 2000-2009[2]

According to the CDC, unintentional injuries occurring in 2005 that resulted in death, hospitalization, or an emergency department visit cost nearly $11.5 billion in medical expenses.[3] The study also found that these injuries are preventable and effective interventions for reducing childhood injuries are less costly than the medical expenses and productivity losses associated with those injuries.[4]



[1] http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm61e0416a1.htm?s_cid=rss_injury411

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

National Summit on Sports Concussion

Categories: Brain Injury

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

The 6th Annual National Summit on Sports Concussion & Other Athletic Injuries: Established and Emerging Science for Return-to-Play takes place on June 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA.  I am pleased to be an invited speaker on few topics including “Mandating Player Safety by Increased Accountability for Non-Compliance on the Sidelines and Exam Room” and demonstrating a “Cross Examination in a Concussion Case”.   The Summit will draw from top leaders in sports concussion evaluation, treatment, and research.  Medical specialists, research scientists, legal advocates and those that work in the insurance world are scheduled to speak as well.  It will be a day of collaboration to help prevent preventable brain trauma and make sports safer and fun for all ages, particularly youth athletes.  For more information, please visit the Sports Concussion Institute’s website.

Sports Concussion Institute

I Was Hurt Due to the Negligence of a State Worker – What Do I Do?

Categories: Premise/Slip and Fall

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

Did you know that a governmental body can only act, and thus be negligent, through its employees?[1]  Like the federal government prior to 1946, the State of Washington was immune from tort liability prior to 1961.  In that year the legislature enacted the Tort Claims Act, permitting claims against the state.[2]  The Washington Supreme Court has stated that the waiver of sovereign immunity “functions as a promise that the State and its agents will use reasonable care while performing its duties at the risk of incurring liability.”[3]  Immunity for the state’s political subdivisions and for municipalities was eliminated in 1967,[4] subject to certain conditions.  As a result, state agencies and municipalities are subject to liability for damages arising out of their tortious conduct in much the same manner as a private person or corporation.

To assert a negligence claim against the state, the injured party must show that the state’s conduct would be actionable if it were done by a private person in a private setting. If the injured party would have no cause of action against a private person for the same conduct, then he or she has no cause of action against the state.[5]

In order to prosecute an action against the state for the negligence of a state employee, an injured party must first file a claim with the state’s risk management office.  Until the claim is presented and filed, the injured party cannot commence a lawsuit against the state.  The applicable statute of limitations is not affected by the claim presentment and filing requirement. Instead, the applicable statute of limitations begins, and continues to run, as if no claim had been presented.

A claim presented to the state should be signed and accurately describe the conduct and circumstances leading to the injury or damage. The claim shall also include:

  1. A description of the injury or damage;
  2. State the time and place the injury or damage occurred;
  3. Sate the names of all known persons involved;
  4. Include a statement of the amount of damages claimed; and
  5. Include a statement of the actual residence of the claimant at the time of presenting the claim and for the six months immediately prior to the time the claim arose.

A similar claim-filing requirement is typically imposed by political subdivisions and municipalities.  Where a claim-filing requirement has been adopted, a properly filed claim is a precondition to filing a lawsuit.  If the injured party waits until shortly before the expiration of the statute of limitations to file an action, but has not observed the sixty-day waiting period, the claim may be barred.



[1] RCW 4.92.090.

[2] Ibid.

[4] RCW 4.96.010.