Youth Services Law

Showing 17 posts in Personal Injury.

Fewer Rules Mean Fewer Injuries & Less Bullying

Posted In Bullying, Day Care, Over-Protection, Personal Injury, Schools, Youth Camps

Boy in playgroundSpeaking of active children, it cannot be a coincidence that the diagnoses of ADHD skyrocketed as schools began phasing out recess. This article reports that schools participating in a study in New Zealand got rid of most of the rules on their playgrounds, and saw a dramatic decrease in injuries and serious bullying incidents. They also saw an increase in children's ability to concentrate in the classroom.

AUT professor of public health Grant Schofield, who worked on the research project, said there are too many rules in modern playgrounds. 'The great paradox of cotton-woolling children is it's more dangerous in the long-run.'

Society's obsession with protecting children ignores the benefits of risk-taking, he said. Children develop the frontal lobe of their brain when taking risks, meaning they work out consequences. 'You can't teach them that. They have to learn risk on their own terms. It doesn't develop by watching TV, they have to get out there.'

Injuries from TVs on the Rise

Posted In Negligence, Personal Injury

A recent study published in the online journal Pediatrics found an alarming rise in injuries to children from falling televisions. No one is quite sure of the reasons for the trend, but the study speculates that more parents may be moving older televisions to less secure locations where children climb and pull the TVs over on themselves.

If you have a television in your facility, be sure that you anchor it with anti-tip mechanisms. Even if the children in your program are not toddlers prone to climb, you need to guard against accidental bumps and accidents that could dislodge the television.

Student Sleep Patterns Correspond to Injuries

Posted In Mental Health Research, Personal Injury, Schools, Youth Camps

The American Academy of Pediatrics last month announced an interesting study in which it found that teenage athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than their peers who slept less.  The study had a small sample (112 students in a single high school) and relied on the students' reports of their sleep patterns, but the findings do mesh with other studies about the importance of student sleep patterns.  The National Sleep Foundation has a good article outlining some of the research, as part of its push for later school start times.

In litigation involving student injuries, lawyers should explore sleep deprivation as a possible causal factor.  In real life, parents, teachers, and camp directors might be able to lower the risk of injuries if they can figure out how to motivate students to get more sleep.

Avoid Television Tip-Overs

Posted In Day Care, Personal Injury, Schools

I ran across this study, from Clinical Pediatrics, analyzing injuries to children from furniture tip-overs. The researchers found a significant increase in injuries in the last 18 years, with televisions being the most-common furniture to tip over.

I have seen a lot of news reports of children being seriously hurt  by falling televisions in schools or day care centers.  In some cases, the staff apparently was not properly supervising the children, and in others, the center might not have properly secured the television. 

Consumer Reports has an article with some excellent suggestions for protecting children around televisions, including:

• anchoring the furniture holding the television

• keeping toys, food, and other temptations off the top of televisions and other tall furniture

• watching for recalls of carts and furniture that you may be using for your television

Ibuprofen Best for Simple Fractures

Posted In Personal Injury

The Annals of Emergency Medicine recently published a study in which ibuprofen proved to be better than acetaminophen with codeine at managing children's pain after an acute fracture.  The researchers only studied the first three days after the fracture, but it is nevertheless an interesting finding.

Hat tip: Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog

Child Chokes on Carrot Stick

Posted In Day Care, Media, Personal Injury

In a tragic incident in New York, a two-year-old girl choked to death on a carrot stick she found in her teacher's bag. Many adults do not realize how dangerous small, hard foods can be for young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a list of dangerous foods, including such common foods as chunks of peanut butter or apples.

The center owner, acting on either good instincts or good advice, issued a well-crafted statement to the media, saying, "We are providing counseling support for our staff who were with the child and offer our total support, thought and prayers for the child's family."

Hat tip: Minor Troubles

Update: Cheerleading is a contact sport, after all

Posted In Personal Injury, Schools

In December, I blogged about the Wisconsin appellate decision holding that cheerleading is not a "contact sport," as the  negligence statute defined it. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has disagreed. In its opinion (, the court held that the fellow student who had failed to go to his proper spot could not be held liable for negligence.

This is a solid, common-sense decision. Clearly, the state legislature intended to  shield individual students from negligence claims by fellow athletes. High school sports have some unavoidable dangers, including the fact that high school students sometimes lack coordination, skill, and even ordinary judgment. Most parents believe that the benefits of sports outweigh those risks. When a student accidentally injures a fellow athlete, the law does not need to be involved.

Day Care Tragedy in Illinois

Posted In Child Abuse, Day Care, Personal Injury

A day care employee in Illinois has been charged with murder for throwing a child to the floor, causing a fatal skull fracture.  It is impossible to know from the other details we have now, but this tragedy may have resulted from something as simple as a snap decision by a normally caring staff member.

Young adults often do not understand how easy it is to hurt children, even with seemingly-minor actions that would not affect an adult.  Day care centers need to constantly train their workers about the risks of corporal punishment and rough handling.  Enforcing the rules is important, but helping employees understand the reasons underlying those rules may prevent their forgetting them in a moment of frustration.

This is a terrible tragedy that never should have happened.

Injury Waivers No Longer Valid in Florida

Posted In Day Care, Personal Injury, Schools, Youth Camps

The Florida ADR Law blog has an interesting post about a recent decision by the Florida Supreme Court, which held that liability waivers that parents sign for their children to participate in commercial activities are not enforceable. The court reasoned that the right to recover for injuries is personal to children, and that parents do not have the authority to waive that right before a child sustains injuries. The court cited a long of list of other states that follow the same rule.

The court's ruling is sure to be controversial on several fronts.  

Continue reading Injury Waivers No Longer Valid in Florida ›

Cheerleading not a "Contact Sport"

Posted In Negligence, Personal Injury, Schools

A Wisconsin appellate court has decided that cheerleading is not a contact sport.  The Marquette Law School faculty blog explains that Brittany Noffke fell during cheerleading practice and suffered a head injury.  She sued the fellow cheerleader who, she says, failed to properly spot her during the maneuver.  The defendant, Kevin Bakke, claimed that he cannot be sued for mere negligence, under a Wisconsin statute governing contact sports.  That statute allows suits only for reckless or intentional conduct.  The Wisconsin court held that, because cheerleading does not involve contact between opposing teams, it is not a "contact sport."

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has granted review of the case, so the question is still alive.  It seems to me that the "contact sports" statute recognized that some activities, by their very nature, assume the risk of negligence by competitors and team members.  After all, there is no question, for example, that basketball is a "contact sport," and that a player could be hurt by a member of his own team chasing a missed free throw.  It is hard to understand how that player warrants more protection than a spotter on a cheerleading squad.

You can find more discussion of this decision at  the Wall Street Journal Law Blog and the PrawfsBlawg.

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