Devastating Injuries Caused by Metal Bats Continue Despite Design Changes
If you are a parent of a little league baseball player, there is a good chance you have witnessed your child, teammates or opponents using aluminum baseball bats. Although these bats are widely used by little league players of all ages, the increased exit speed of a ball off an aluminum bat can cause devastating injuries. When manufacturers of metal bats fail to make their product reasonably safe or to provide adequate warning of the potential dangers they pose, the bat manufacturer can be liable. The issue surrounding injuries caused by aluminum baseball bats are complex because the injury victim is not usually the person who purchases the product causing injury.
A wrongful death lawsuit in another state involving an 18-year-old pitcher who was struck in the head by a baseball serves as an example. The pitcher was injured when the ball was propelled by a bat manufactured by Louisville Slugger. The player suffered a fatal head injury during the American Legion baseball game, and the manufacturer settled the case for $850,000. The family who filed the wrongful death lawsuit based on product liability law alleged that the manufacturer of the bat failed to warn of the reduced reaction for players when the ball comes off an aluminum bat.
The bat manufacturer argued that the company was not liable because it owed no duty to the outfielders. The company contended that it only owed a duty to warn the player who purchased the bat. Based on the theory of the company that made the bat, the outfielders and pitcher would have no recourse against a bat company for an unsafe bat because they are not the party that purchased and uses the product.
The court rejected this reasoning and ruled that only warning the batter of the risks inadequately communicates the risk of the ball's increased exit speed to the other players. All of the players in the game including the pitcher who was injured were determined to be users of the bat under the court's ruling. The court indicated that everyone involved in the game was placed at increased risk by the increased velocity generated by the metal bat.
A separate lawsuit that settled last year involving a little leaguer reveals that attempts by sports leagues may not have gone far enough to protect players from the inherent risks of aluminum bats. In that sports accident, a little league pitcher suffered brain damage when he was struck in the chest by a ball hit by a player with an aluminum bat. The blow impacted the player in the exact spot and at the precise moment to trigger a heart attack. Despite the efforts of first responders on the scene, the boy's brain was deprived of oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes. Little League Baseball, Louisville Slugger and The Sports Authority ultimately settled the case for $14.5 million. The brain damaged suffered by the boy was so extensive that he is not able to provide for any of his basic life functions.
Little League Baseball reportedly indicated during the lawsuit that they limited the performance of aluminum bats in the 1990s, so they would not exceed that of wooden bats. The organization also claimed this reduced the prevalence of metal bat injuries from 145 per year to 20 to 30. However, these recent sports accidents that resulted in catastrophic injury and wrongful death suggest that metal bats still pose a danger to players in youth leagues.
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If your child has suffered an injury in a sports accident because of defective equipment, your child may have a right to legal compensation for his or her injuries. Our personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.