The Death of a Young Baseball Player and the Lack of Statistics on Youth Sports Injuries

The tragic death of a 12 year-old Chicago-area boy in a baseball-related accident has brought attention to a lack of data tracking regarding sports injuries in children. Although researchers have extensively catalogued injuries in athletes at the high school level and up, no one is collecting information on injuries to younger athletes. Sports can be a cause of serious injuries in children, so having access to information and statistics could help not only parents, but equipment manufacturers assess risks and develop safer products.

A 12 year-old boy from Oswego, Illinois, Eric Lederman, died in April from an injury caused by a baseball hitting him in the neck. Lederman was playing catch with a teammate on the side of the field while warming up for a game on Thursday, April 12. The ball struck him in the neck, reportedly hitting his carotid artery. He immediately collapsed and was taken to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital just after 8:00 p.m. The cause of death was determined to be a cerebral hemorrhage caused by blunt-force trauma, and was declared an accident.

Lederman had played baseball for five years. He played for an in-house league for two years, and then he played for a traveling team for three years, playing catcher, center field, and third base. A spokesperson for the league did not know whether Lederman was in a catcher’s crouch when the ball hit him, nor did he know if he was wearing protective equipment. It is unclear whether protective gear would have saved his life.

An article in the News & Observer relates Lederman’s story to the broader lack of data on youth sports injuries. Among high school students, it says, baseball is one of the safest sports, boasting a mere 0.11 injuries per 100,000 players. Organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association track injuries for college athletes, and the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research monitors both collegiate and high school sports. For anyone younger than high school, however, comprehensive data simply do not exist. Not all sports injuries lead to liability for damages, but parents and equipment companies should have access to risk information in order to make informed decisions.

Any athletic activity involves risk. Some sports, such as football, tend to carry a greater risk of catastrophic injury than other sports. The baseball league in Oswego has reportedly reviewed its safety procedures and inspected all of its protective equipment in the wake of Lederman’s death. Assumption of risk or comparative negligence may play a part in determining liability for a sports injury, but the principal area where sport injuries could lead to a civil claim is in products liability. If protective gear and other equipment fails to function or provide protection according to its specifications, it could be because of a defect in its design or manufacturing. One study found that eighteen pre-high-school athletes died from baseball injuries between 1989 and 2010, most after being hit in the head or chest by a ball. Improved equipment may help mitigate these risks.

The Washington, DC injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen help people injured due to the negligence or tortious actions of others to recover their just compensation. For a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949.

More Blog Posts:

Washington DC Dentist Warns of Dangers of Sports Injuries, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2011
Players Sue NFL and Helmet Manufacturer over Head Injuries, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 3, 2011
Maryland Injury Accident: High School Football Player Injured in Pre-Football Training Program, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 9, 2011

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