An Allegheny County jury recently found a borough in Pittsburgh and two local athletic associations responsible for a brain injury that a child sustained during a Little League game. The child was awarded $1.7 million according to PennLive.com.
While sitting in the first base dugout watching his Little League teammates at bat, Zachary Hoffman was hit by a foul ball on the left side of his head. Zachary’s skull was fractured and he suffered from intense brain bleeding as well as a traumatic brain injury. He was injured the day before his twelfth birthday.
Zachary suffered permanent injuries from the incident. His father told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Zachary had “severe changes in behavior, mood and impulse control.” Since the incident in 2015, Zachary had to change schools and is now accompanied by special education teachers in class.
Zachary’s attorney argued that the dugout was not adequately protected. The foul ball flew through an 11-foot opening in the dugout fencing when it hit Zachary. Little League requires dugouts across the country to be protected by a fence and screen. Because the field did not have the proper safety measures in place, the jury found that the borough and athletic associations were liable.
The attorney also discovered that another child was injured in the same dugout one year before the foul ball struck Zachary. In that instance, a foul ball struck a child in the chest. The child was not injured because he was wearing a chest protector. The attorney claimed that this pointed to the fact that the defense knew of the issue, but did not act to correct the safety shortcoming.
As you gear up for spring sports, consider having a conversation with your little ones about safety on and off the field. Traumatic brain injuries can affect players in many sports, including baseball, football, basketball, just to name a few.