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Chicago Holiday Safe Driving Tips

Holiday Safe DrivingWe hear it every winter – this one is going to be bad. From the Farmer’s Almanac to local weatherpeople, Chicago prepares for the worst! However, even with bad weather, people like to travel and need holiday safe driving tips. People cross state lines to see their family and friends. To ensure that everyone has a safe and fun holiday, remember to drive safely and pay attention to weather conditions. [Read more…]

Car Insurance Rates Increase With Accidents

Got Car Insurance?Everyone has car insurance. Or at least the law requires everyone to have car insurance. But no one wants to use their car insurance! After a car accident, the driver files a claim with the insurance company if he or she wants to be reimbursed for the damages. Yet, when the damage is minor, a lot of drivers try to avoid filing minor claims. They fear a claim will trigger a higher premium for their car insurance.

Recently, analysts tied the rise in car insurance rates to an increase in accident rates. They point to distracted driving and drowsy driving as the cause. These conditions have led not only to higher insurance premiums, but also many fatalities. Drivers absolutely need to pay closer attention to the road when behind the wheel. [Read more…]

Who Pays? College Sports-Related Injuries

Sports-Related InjuriesThe roar of the crowd, the competition and comradery, and finally, the thrill of victory – the driving reasons behind why most college athletes join a sports team on top of being a student. Parents are usually excited that their child has the opportunity to be seen by professional scouts and attend school on a scholarship but lurking in the back of most parents’ minds is the possibility that it could all be taken away if their children suffer sports-related injuries. But at the end of the day, only 1% of college athletes continue on as a professional and only 2% of all high school athletes received a scholarship to play college athletics. Most college athletes are doing it for the love of the game.

Unfortunately, from sprains, strains, and pulled muscles to runner’s knee, concussions, and heat-related illness, there are a wide range of injuries that have become commonplace in college athletics. Due to added media pressure based on concussions and college athlete fatalities, new regulations and precautions have been implemented by the NCAA to minimize the frequency of sports-related injuries but eliminating them altogether, especially in contact sports, is impossible. An athlete who suffers a sports-related injury may need surgery, physical therapy, or ongoing treatment to restore him back to health, let-alone to be able to play again. This raises an important question: when college athletes get injured, who pays?


 Who Foots the Bill when College Athletes get Injured?


2000px-NCAA_logo.svgAccording to the NCAA bylaws, student-athletes are required to obtain insurance coverage for sports-related injuries with limits up to $90,000. Individual colleges are obligated to verify that their athletes have sufficient coverage before they are permitted to play. Regardless of the severity of the injury, once the student-athlete incurs eligible medical expenses exceeding the NCAA’s $90,000 deductible, their Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program will pick up the bill, up to $20 million. Covered events include games or competitions, official team activities, practices that are organized by the school, and conditioning. Nevertheless, financial and legal issues can arise when the injury requires long-term care that is not covered by NCAA insurance, especially if it prevents the student-athlete from playing or working. Additionally, serious legal implications follow when a coach or member of the athletic department pressures a player to return from an injury before he is fully recovered. Recently, at the University of Illinois, after a report was released that found extensive mistreatment of former football players by a former coach, the athletic director was fired.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), a smaller college association, offers a similar catastrophic insurance plan for all of its students who participate in club or intramural sports. The student must meet a $25,000 deductible first but the NAIA has no provision mandating that student-athletes have insurance. That means an uninsured, injured student-athlete could potentially have to pay $25,000 out-of-pocket before the NAIA’s $5 million policy will pick up the rest. The NAIA does offer an exclusive insurance plan for its students and athletes that aims to provide an affordable means of obtaining comprehensive health insurance coverage.


Common Sports-Related Injuries and How to Prevent Them



football-557565_960_720Arguably the most publicized of the sports-related injuries, concussions have topped the list of injuries that the NCAA is trying to create plans to protect their players. A concussion is a serious brain injury that can occur in any sport when the athlete suffers from a blow to the head or body.  Although a concussed patient who does not lose consciousness may not even realize he has suffered from a concussion, often student-athletes do not report their injury for fear of losing play time. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has published rules to help protect players from concussions, especially in football where concussions are most common.  It requires all players wear both helmets and mouth guards and declares that the play is immediately ‘dead’ if the ball-carriers helmet comes off. The Association has also impressed the manta, “when it doubt, get checked out” to all of its student-athletes in order to encourage reporting.

Heat-related Illness

A more common sports-related inury is caused by the heat. Intense exercise in hot and humid weather conditions can cause dehydration and increase the risk of exertional heat injury. Although deaths from heat illness are rare, exertional heat stroke is the third leading cause of on-the-field sudden death in athletes. A student-athlete with a history of exertional heat illnesses or who has is not in great shape, has a higher percentage of body fat, or is reluctant to report medical problems is especially prone to heat-related illness. To prevent heat-related illness, monitor your fluid intake while engaging in physical activities to ensure that you are staying adequately hydrated. Be aware of the warning signs of exertional heat injuries including excessive dry mouth or thirst, dizziness, fatigue, or ceasing to sweat in conditions that would normally cause you to. These are all signs of heat injuries that should be recognized and reported quickly to ensure that a more severe illness, such as heat stroke, does not result.

Winter Sport Safety

As the snow falls, skiing and snowboarding season begins and with these winter sports also comes great danger and responsibility. There are dangers besides the icy roads and potholes. Winter enthusiasts typically enjoy skiing and snowboarding because of the enticing thrill and risk that coincides with the sport. Skiing and snowboarding require skill and experience that can take years to acquire. While acquiring these skills, misjudging your skill level can lead to collisions and injuries. However, based on technology and new safety measures, injuries and collisions have drastically decreased over the past few decades.

Skiing and snowboarding roughly result in 50 serious injuries and 54 deaths annually. Considering that most people only engage in winter sports over two months out of the year,it’s crucial to be aware of safety precautions. Most fatalities and injuries occur in the population of people who engage in high-risk behavior. On average, the victims are predominantly males in their late teen to early 30s.

[Read more…]

Snowmobiling Safety Tips

While the rest of us were stuck in traffic behind plows, many were snowmobiling across portions of Illinois and the Midwest. With winter snowfall accumulations approaching 70 inches, the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago are slated to have had the 5th copious amount of snow has been welcomed by some. At the top of the list of excited Illinoisans: snowmobilers. In recent years snow accumulations have lulled, but the 2013/2014 winter season did not disappoint, and snowmobilers were out in force. With a renewed interest in this winter activity, it is always good to know how to keep safe on these vehicles, and what sort of laws Illinois has in place for its snowmobiling enthusiasts. [Read more…]

About the Firm

Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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