February 2nd, 2014
Every 21 seconds, someone across America will suffer a traumatic brain injury. Over 15 million people each year suffer this serious and sometimes fatal type of injury, Moreover, nearly 5.3 million live with permanent disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injury, or TBI. A TBI can be one of two types. The most common TBI results from an outside force impacting the head, causing the brain to move within the skull or the skull itself to crack. Brain injury can also be acquired, resulting from a lack of oxygen to the brain.
TBIs can result from a wide range of incidents, with the most common causes in Mississippi including:
- Car accidents—car accidents are the number one cause of accidental injury throughout Mississippi, and traumatic brain injuries occur at alarming rates as the result of car accidents. Though seat belts have decreased such incidences, even seat belts cannot always protect against deadly head injury. Those who receive brain injuries in a car accident can seek compensation from the at-fault driver.
- Motorcycle collisions—traumatic brain injury occurs at high rates for those involved in motorcycle accidents. The use helmets can diminish the risk of brain injury, but do not eliminate it. Given the lesser protection afforded motorcycles than the passengers of motor vehicles, brain injuries are more likely to occur. Motorcycle accident attorneys can pursue an action against the at-fault driver for all injuries sustained.
- Truck accidents—accidents involving large commercial trucks are more likely to result in serious injury, such as traumatic brain injury, than crashes between two cars. Truck drivers whose negligence leads to the brain injury of another can be held accountable in a personal injury suit.
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents—this group represents the most vulnerable of individuals on the roadways. Pedestrians and bicyclists are often the victim of collisions with motor vehicles that fail to see these smaller road users. Brain injured pedestrians and bicyclists have the right to compensation for their devastating injuries caused by the negligence of the driver of the motor vehicle.
- Sports injuries—the recent high profile litigation against the NFL and other professional sports organizations has brought to light the grave potential for brain injury amongst sports players. Traumatic brain injury doesn’t just occur in the major leagues; individuals playing any sport with the potential for contact with other players or the ball can become the victim of traumatic brain injury. Youths involved in sports such as football, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer, boxing, and cheerleading are all particularly vulnerable to traumatic brain injuries. The organizers of sports activities can be held responsible for traumatic brain injuries that occur to players as a result of their negligence.
- Violence—violent acts, such as domestic abuse, child abuse, gunshot wounds, and dog bites, accounts for approximately 10% of all traumatic brain injuries. When these violent acts occur as a result of negligent security, victims may have an action against the property owner under premises liability law. Those traumatically brain injured by animal attacks can pursue an action against the pet’s owner under strict liability law.
- Drowning—near drowning can lead to acquired brain injury, and children suffer this injury most frequently. If the near drowning occurs in the pool of a negligent owner, the property owner may be responsible.
Traumatic brain injury is considered a silent epidemic because so many suffer from this serious, often debilitating injury, but the public remains unaware of their plight. If you or a loved one may have suffered a TBI, an experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney at Giddens Law Firm can help. Giddens Law Firm will aggressively fight for the maximum recovery of our brain injured clients. Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.
January 28th, 2014
The case of Stella Liebeck vs. McDonald’s, more commonly referred to as the hot coffee case, remains one of the most famous tort cases of all time. The case made national and even international headlines, spurred a whole reform movement in the arena of personal injury law, and became the punch line for late-night television, sitcoms, and even music videos. Stella Lieback’s case became the most frequently cited example of how citizens take advantage of the American legal system. It was viewed as the epitome of the frivolous lawsuit. Most people asked to recite the facts of the case would say it involved a woman who ordered hot coffee, spilled it on herself, then sued and won millions of dollars from industry giant McDonald’s. However, the reality of the case differs greatly from the story put forth by the media.
The following is a look at the reality behind the McDonald’s hot coffee case: Back in 1992, Stella Liebeck was 79 years old. She was riding in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car when the two went through the McDonald’s drive thru to pick up coffee. Mrs. Liebeck’s grandson pulled over and came to a complete stop. Mrs. Liebeck, who was not driving, attempted to remove the lid on her coffee so that she could add cream and sugar. As she removed the lid, she spilled the entire cup on her lap.
- Stella Liebeck received third degree burns over 6% of her skin and lesser burns over 16% of her body. Graphic photographs of the burns can be found online.
- She required skin grafts and debridement.
- She spent eight days in the hospital.
- Over the next two years, Mrs. Liebeck required ongoing treatment.
- Mrs. Liebeck originally asked McDonald’s to settle the case for $20,000 but they rejected this proposal.
- McDonald’s admitted to over 700 similar complaints during trial preparation.
- McDonald’s revealed that it served its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees, far exceeding the average temperature of coffee brewed at home, which is between 135 to 140 degrees.
- The judge in the case ordered mediation, during which the mediator suggested McDonald’s settle the case for $225,000. They again refused.
- An expert at trial testified that had the coffee been served at 155 degrees or less, Mrs. Liebeck would not have been seriously burned.
- Burn institutes had published warnings to the fast food industry to decrease the temperature of coffee served.
- A doctor testified that 180 degree liquid causes third degree burns in less than 15 seconds.
- A McDonald’s executive testified at trial that McDonald’s was aware of the danger that its coffee could cause serious burns but made the decision not to lower the temperature.
- While the media reported Mrs. Liebeck received millions of dollars, she was in fact awarded less than $200,000 in actual damages.
- The jury awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages but the award was later reduced to $480,000.
- Mrs. Liebeck and McDonald’s ultimately reached a final settlement outside of court, and the exact payout is unknown but estimated to be in the ballpark of $600,000.
Mrs. Liebeck stated publically that her motivation for the suit was never financial. Rather, she wanted Mc Donald’s to bring down the temperature of its coffee so that no one else got hurt. Mrs. Liebeck was unable to speak out about the facts of the case because she signed a confidentiality agreement during settlement.
At John D. Giddens Law Firm, we have seen firsthand the tremendous positive impact personal injury suits can have on injured clients and society as a whole. Punitive damages against large companies like McDonald’s are designed to punish companies for failing to protect their consumers. Without such suits, millions more would be injured due to company negligence. If you have experienced an injury at the hands of another individual or company, the Giddens Law Firm can help you achieve a full and complete recovery. Contact us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free and completely confidential initial consultation.
January 26th, 2014
For the last several years it has been surprisingly simple for a man to report symptoms such as low sex drive, lack of energy or loss of muscle mass and be prescribed testosterone to correct any number of ills. Doctors refer to the condition as low t.
Typically the treatment is simple enough, with the doctor prescribing testosterone cream to the thigh or bicep. The drug names for this therapy include: axiron, androgel, fortesta, testopel, striant, delatestryl, testim and androderm.
Despite some of the benefits that may be gained from testosterone, a percentage of men on testosterone have reported heart issues after beginning treatment. These issues range from artery blockage to heart attack or stroke and include any heart issue in between.
If you or a loved one have been prescribed one of the medications above and later been diagnosed with a heart issue, you may have a claim. Call 601-355-2022 to speak with an experienced attorney regarding your potential claim.
January 26th, 2014
Every driver knows they should never flee the scene of an accident, but the recent case of a Hattiesburg man who did just that should serve as an important reminder of how serious an offense leaving the scene of an accident can be. In September of 2011, in the early morning hours, Shelby Johnson, a 46 year old man from Hattiesburg, struck a pedestrian with his vehicle while driving during a rainstorm. He left the scene of the accident. Several hours later, he returned to the spot and contacted law enforcement officers.
Johnson’s victim had been severely injured but had already been transported to the hospital by ambulance. A Forrest County grand jury indicted Johnson for leaving the scene of an accident, and Johnson pled guilty. Judge Bob Helfrich, a Forrest County Circuit Court Judge, sentenced Johnson to a total of ten years imprisonment, with eight years suspended and three years of post-release supervision. Johnson will additionally pay $1,600 in fines.
Attorney General Jim Hood stated that while this is not an example of a typical case they choose to prosecute, he hoped it would serve as an important reminder that leaving the scene of the accident is a felony and can equate to jail time.
While the case of Shelby Johnson is unique, it is far from a lone occurrence. In fact, in 2012 in Hattiesburg, a woman was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Victoria J. Lumpert, a 58 year old woman, struck a pedestrian in 2010. She fled the scene of the accident. The victim, 47 year old Lawrence John Brun, died several months later from his injuries. Lumpert was caught and indicted with one count of felony leaving the scene of an accident. She was later sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The tales of Johnson and Lumpert are tragic, for both the victims involved and the defendants who will now spend years of their lives behind prison bars. The following is a list of some points you can take away from these cases concerning fleeing the scene of an accident:
- It is hard to predict your behavior following an accident—no one can predict how they will feel or act following a serious accident. Most of us likely believe we will act in accordance with the law, but the reality is no one really sets out to flee the scene of an accident. Rather, people like Johnson and Lumpert react out of panic and fear. This is why it is so important that you are well aware of the consequences of leaving an accident site, because in those crucial moments following the crash this will help you to make the right decision and stay at the scene until police arrive.
- Fleeing the scene will harm your health—when you are in an accident that may have been your fault, by leaving the scene of an accident you demolish any chance at a defense. Your act of flight acknowledges your sole responsibility for the accident.
- Fleeing the scene can destroy your life—leaving an accident is a crime and you can face serious prison time, like Johnson and Lumpert. What could have been a simple fine or insurance claim against you can turn into years wasted behind bars. The right choice is clear—remain at the scene of any accident until law enforcement officers arrive.
The Giddens Law Firm wants all drivers to act responsibly in the event of a crash. If you were injured in an automobile accident, the zealous attorney advocates at the Giddens Law Firm can help. Call us today (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free and completely confidential consultation.
January 24th, 2014
The first week of 2014 saw 49 daily record lows set across the county. A vicious cold snap brought the coldest weather in decades to the central, eastern, and southern states. In Vicksburg, Mississippi, a low of 13 degrees was recorded, breaking the previous record low of 17. In Meridian, it reached just 11 degrees, smashing through the record low of 15. Finally, here in Jackson, the temperature gauge read 14 degrees, two degrees less than the previously recorded low of 16.
These frigid temperatures present a host of dangers, and not all of them are outdoors. Keeping your home warm during these winter months comes with its own hazards. Heating equipment is involved in over 53,000 home fires across the U.S. each year and over 400 people die annually in heating related fires. Another 1,500 individuals are injured in these fires and over $893 million in property damage is incurred. Heating equipment fires account for 14% of all reported home fires. Fires are not the only perils associated with home heating. The following is a list of tips to help you heat your home safely and responsibly:
- Exercise grave caution when using space heaters—space heaters have become highly popular for home heating, particularly in the South where temperatures do not often reach extreme lows. However, space heater use can be dangerous. Four out of five home heating deaths are associated with space heaters. Further, thousands of children are scalded on the devices each year. Experts suggest purchasing space heaters with a grate on the front which can prevent children from getting burned and keep objects at a safer distance from heating elements. Move anything that could be combustible, including clothing and furniture, at least three feet away from the heater. Newer space heaters come with a “tip” safety device, which causes the unit to shut off if tipped over. This is a great safety feature and it is suggested you replace older units lacking this capability with new safety certified ones.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector when using gas fueled heaters—gas fueled heaters produce carbon monoxide. More than 400 Americans die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, another 20,000 are taken to the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, have your home heating system serviced by a licensed professional once a year. Ensure the heater is properly vented. Always back your vehicle out of the driveway if you intend to leave it running. Most importantly, install a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and CO poisoning symptoms resemble that of a common cold. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to detect CO, which can lead to deadly results.
- Place generators in a safe, outdoor space—never use portable gasoline powered generators in an enclosed space, like the garage or a shed. Keep these generators as far away from your home as possible, being mindful to your neighbor as well.
- Check fireplace flues and chimneys—it is best to have a professional inspect your fireplace flues and chimneys each year to ensure there are no leaks or blocks. Further, always remember to open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire as this will prevent the buildup of poisonous gasses in your home.
The attorneys at the John D. Giddens Law Firm hope that these tips will keep you and your family safe and warm this winter. As temperatures plummet to new lows, it is important to exercise caution while heating your home. For assistance with any accident, call the Giddens Law Firm today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.
January 22nd, 2014
How much do you really know about personal injury attorneys? In Part I of this two part series profiling Mississippi personal injury attorneys, we addressed some basics about what a personal injury lawyer is, how personal injury law developed, how one becomes a personal injury attorney, and what a personal injury lawyer makes a year. In this segment, we will continue our look at personal injury attorneys, studying the commonality of the practice, the number of accidents a year, and expected growth trends.
How many personal injury attorneys are there in Mississippi?
There are over 7,000 active attorneys who are residents of the state of Mississippi. This amounts to approximately 23 attorneys per 10,000 residents. While this might seem like a lot of lawyers, it is actually below the U.S. average of 40 lawyers per 10,000 residents. As for the number of personal injury lawyers, there are over 650 lawyers in Mississippi who list personal injury law as a practice area. Nearly half, or 237, of these attorneys offer legal services to residents in the Jackson, Mississippi area.
How many accidents occur in Mississippi each year?
Most reports list accident statistics by type of accident. The most common accident in Mississippi, and across the United States, is car accidents. Over 750 car accident fatalities occur each year in the Magnolia State, placing it in the top 20 for most dangerous states to drive. Automobile accidents are not the only common accident in Mississippi. The state ranks tenth highest for pedestrian deaths, with over 50 occurring this past year. It also is home to many workplace injuries each year.
What are some future projections for the field of personal injury law?
Nationally, the personal injury field has continued to grow year over year. The industry’s revenue grew to over $25 billion in 2012. Personal injury law has benefited from the aging U.S. population, which has led to more falls and other injuries, medical malpractice claims, and nursing home neglect. Further, the number of individuals pursuing personal injury claims has actually risen during the recent economic downturn, despite the number of motor vehicle accidents decreasing. Researchers speculate the recession has caused many individuals to pursue claims if they are injured where they might not have done so before.
The personal injury field is expected to gross over $29.5 billion by 2017. Lawyers are expected to benefit from an uptick in profits generated by structured settlements, which have increased in popularity in recent years. Structured settlements are payment arrangements that allow the defendant to pay damages over a period of time.
Despite positive trends in the overall revenue of the personal injury law arena, personal injury lawyers must be ever mindful of the continued flux of recent law school graduates. Newly minted attorneys entering the field may lead to increased competition and could harm small firms.
Though time will tell whether the personal injury practice remains viable in the future, with the astonishing rate of accidents nationwide and continued need for innocent victims to obtain compensation, it seems likely personal injury attorneys will continue to have a multitude of clients.
Giddens Law Firm: A Personal Injury Firm of Excellence
Attorney John D. Giddens founded Giddens Law Firm with one goal in mind—helping accident victims who could not otherwise help themselves. Mr. Giddens has devoted his practice and his life to seeing injured Mississippians receive justice. With extensive litigation experience and a proven track record of excellence, the attorney’s at the Giddens Law Firm will guide you towards a full and complete recovery. Call the Giddens Law Firm today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.
January 20th, 2014
Every day on your drive into work, you are likely inundated with advertisements for local personal injury attorneys on billboards and the radio. While reading the paper at your desk, you probably catch a few more print ads from personal injury attorneys. Later, when you turn on your television after work, you might well see a commercial featuring a personal injury attorney in your area. Though you see personal injury attorneys frequently due to active marketing, you probably know very little about this unique group of attorneys. The following is a profile of Mississippi personal injury attorneys, designed to provide you with an in-depth look into the lives of these lawyers who dedicate themselves to seeing injured individuals recover:
What is a personal injury lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer is a lawyer who provides legal services to those who have been injured due to the negligence or purposeful wrongdoing of another person or entity. Personal injury attorneys strive to see their injured clients obtain compensation for the losses they have suffered.
How did personal injury law develop?
One of the earliest forms of personal injury law dates back to the concept of physical retribution. In early times, when someone harmed another they were expected to repay the injured party by offering what was taken. The now famous phrase “an eye for an eye” sums up the philosophy. As time went on, society moved towards a more civilized punishment system with monetary compensation at its core.
How does one become a personal injury attorney?
To practice law in the state of Mississippi, you must complete several years of study and pass numerous rigorous tests. Anyone wishing to practice law in the state must be admitted to the Mississippi Bar. Applicants to the bar must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and have completed law school at a school approved by the Section on Legal Education and the American Bar Association. In addition, would be lawyers must pass a thorough character and fitness assessment. Those with certain criminal convictions, heavy debts, or even significant traffic tickets, may be prevented from sitting for the bar in the state of Mississippi.
Applicants who meet these inflexible requirements must then pass the Mississippi Bar Examination. This dreaded examination takes place over two days and requires the test taker show proficiency in a variety of legal areas, including real property, bankruptcy, criminal law, torts, and constitutional law. Those who pass the bar examination may then be admitted to the Mississippi Bar and allowed to practice law in the state.
All lawyers must continue to hone their legal knowledge by attending yearly Continuing Legal Education Classes. To keep their license active, lawyers must also pay yearly dues. Further, to be certified as a specialist in the field of personal injury law, a lawyer must complete a specialty certification program accredited by the American Bar Association.
What is the average salary of a personal injury lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers are unique in that they do not charge an hourly rate. Instead, they accept a percentage of their client’s compensation as payment. A personal injury attorney will only get paid if your case is successful. That being said, the average salary of a personal injury attorney is $73,000. Those employed in large firms tend to earn above this average, topping the pay scales at between $81,000 and $164,000 a year. Salaries do tend to vary by region, as well, with firms in the South traditionally under-earning those in the North, though disparities in cost of living may mitigate these differences.
Giddens Law Firm: A Personal Injury Firm of Distinction
For over 20 years, the dedicated personal injury attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm have represented the victims of accidents all over the state of Mississippi. The attorneys at The John D. Giddens Law Firm will provide the skilled, compassionate, and zealous representation you need to obtain full compensation for your injuries. Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free consultation.
January 15th, 2014
Over one million deer related crashes occur annually and many of these accidents happen in Mississippi. Mississippi is home to a large and thriving deer population, which is great for nature enthusiasts and hunters, but potentially dangerous for drivers. Over 3,000 collisions between deer and vehicles occur in Mississippi each year. This equates to the odds that one in every 131.35 drivers will be involved in an accident involving a deer. By the time you have finished reading this blog post, a deer related accident will likely have taken place somewhere in the U.S.
Collisions with deer can cause serious damage to your vehicle and your person. Over 200 fatalities are caused by deer-vehicle collisions each year. The average damage to a truck or car is over $3,000.
The following is a list tips to help you safely navigate on roadways that might also serve as deer crossing points:
- Be vigilant—stay alert and drive defensively, particularly during the fall and at dawn and dusk. Deer movement increases during the months of October through early January, and deer are especially active between sunrise and sunset. Twenty percent of deer crashes occur in the early morning and more than half occur between the hours of 5 p.m. and midnight. Proceed with extra caution during these active deer times.
- Observe posted areas—be especially watchful in areas where deer crossing signs are posted. These areas are known to have large deer populations that live near roadways, so accidents here are more likely. Deer can wander into suburban areas, but are most often found on the outskirts of town and in wooded areas.
- Watch for eyes—especially at night, deer can often be detected by the shine of eyes along the roadside. Immediately begin to slow upon seeing these eyes.
- Always wear a seatbelt and drive at a safe speed—traveling at high speeds may prevent you from spotting a deer or being able to stop in time. Further, in the event you are in an accident with a deer or get into an accident while trying to avoid one, wearing a safety belt can save your life.
- If you see one, there will be more—deer travel in herds, so if one crosses in front of you, stop and wait for others. When you do continue traveling, drive at slow speeds and stay alert as there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
- Exercise caution if you need to swerve to avoid a deer—sometimes drivers will be put in the position of either hitting a deer or swerving to evade it. Avoiding a deer collision is always preferred but sometimes swerving is dangerous. Before you swerve, check to make sure you will not move into the path of an oncoming vehicle or lose control of your vehicle on gravel or inclines.
- Use high beams when possible at night—when no other vehicles are approaching, use your high beams to illuminate the road. This can help you spot approaching deer.
- Flash your lights—if you see a deer frozen on the roadway, try flashing your lights as you slowly approach and give one long blast of the horn. Deer tend to become mesmerized by bright, steady lights, so the goal is to stir them to action.
- Do not rely on car mounted deer whistles—deer whistles emit a sound when a vehicle is traveling over 35 mph. The sound is intended to cause a deer or other animal to freeze along the side of the road, hence preventing an accident. However, these devices are far from fool proof and should not replace heightened vigilance, defensive driving, and reasonable speeds.
If you have been involved in an accident in Mississippi, the Giddens Law Firm can help. The Giddens Law Firm has represented the victims of all manner of accidents for over 20 years. Our passionate attorney team will relentlessly fight for your recovery. Call us today at (601) 355-2022 for a free case analysis.
January 12th, 2014
On Mississippi roadways, the New Year seems to have rung in several emerging trends in drunk driving. Over this holiday season, the Mississippi Highway Patrol was called to the scene of 39 accidents across the state. Twenty-one of these accidents involved injuries but only four were alcohol related. No fatalities occurred. Despite a low number of alcohol related accidents, the state Highway Patrol arrested 57 individuals for DUI and issued 1,331 over the New Year’s holiday.
From these numbers, Mississippi Highway Patrol officers are noticing a new trend—more people are being arrested for DUIs but fewer are dying due to drunk driving. The number of drunk driving deaths over the past few years seems to support this theory. In 2007, 385 people were killed by drunk drivers. In 2010, that number dropped to 235.
Lee County Sherriff Jim Johnson, whose office made 16 driving and drinking arrests over New Year’s, hypothesized that the decline in drunk driving deaths and uptick in arrests is due to more officers patrolling, better training for officers, and more ways to catch offenders. Johnson cited the presence of cell phones in vehicles as having a positive impact in this instance, as drivers of today can, and often do, call in reports of unsafe driving or suspected drunk driving.
Passage of the DUI death law in 1994 is also a potential factor in the decreasing rate of DUI deaths. Mississippi’s DUI death law states that if an offender commits a DUI that causes the death of another, the offender will be found guilty of a felony and be sentenced to between five and 25 years. This harsh law is designed to hold those who elect to drive drunk responsible for the horrific consequences their actions wrought. It seems to have had the desired effect of causing some individuals to think twice before getting behind the wheel drunk.
Though the decline in DUI fatalities and increase in arrests is a positive trend, a few negative trends have also emerged. One new problem faced by Highway Patrol officers is unpredictable drinking times. Drunk driving used to be a weekend night activity, enabling patrolmen to target these times. Recently, however, deputies are arresting intoxicated drivers at all times of the day, including early morning.
The increasing use of prescription medication has also presented new challenges to officers. Any drug which acts on the brain and central nervous system can impair a driver’s motor skills and reaction time, making for unsafe driving. A recent National Roadside Survey conducted by National Highway Safety Administration found that more than 18% of drivers on the roads during the weekend and nighttime tested positive for prescription, illegal, or over the counter drugs.
Sheriff Johnson expounded on the potential danger of Mississippi driver ingesting these prescription drugs than getting behind the wheel. He stated that individuals take prescription drugs at all times of day and many are not detectable, unlike alcohol. This makes the officer’s task of protecting innocent drivers more complex.
In Mississippi, being caught drunk behind the wheel will come at a large cost. A first offense costs $720.50. The second will run you $1,320. Your license will be suspended and you will be required to attend a driver education program. If you are arrested a third time, you will be charged with a felony and face up to five years imprisonment.
At the Giddens Law Firm, we have represented thousands of drunk driving accident victims. We know firsthand the devastating impact drunk drivers can have on innocent Mississippi residents. If you have been injured in an accident involving a suspected drunk driver, the Giddens Law Firm can help you obtain a full and complete recovery while holding the negligent driver accountable. Call us today at (601) 355-2022 to learn more about your legal options, rights and responsibilities. We look forward to providing you with superior legal representation.
January 7th, 2014
Tens of thousands of youth sport’s players are killed each year due to traumatic brain injuries, more commonly referred to as concussions. Hundreds of thousands more are severely injured, requiring hospitalization. Sadly, concussions among young athletes appear to be on the rise, with emergency room visits for traumatic brain injuries increasing over 60% in the past decade.
In the face of these alarming statistics, each and every state except for Mississippi has passed youth concussion laws which set guidelines for the coaches and volunteers on how to act when an athlete suffers from a possible brain injury. Mississippi Senator Michel Watson of Pascagoula tried twice to pass such a bill, but both times the measure failed. The first bill passed unanimously in the Senate then died in the Public Health Committee. The second bill similarly failed to garner the necessary support. Now, however, a youth concussion law is winding its way through the legislative process and appears on track for approval.
Recently, the house passed a bill that would set protocols for youth athletes showing possible signs of a concussion, by an overwhelming vote of 116-1. Under the proposed new law, a school aged athlete showing or reporting signs of a concussion must be removed from the game or practice for at least one day and will not be permitted to return to sports until cleared by a medical doctor. This legislation is being pushed by both the House and Senate this session.
The landslide House vote was a significant victory for this long-fought bill. The bill was actually authored by House Public Chairman Sam Mims, whose committee killed the Senate concussion bill back in 2012. Senator Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula introduced a similar bill this week which would require all schools, private or public, that have youth athletic programs, adopt a concussion management policy.
The pending concussion legislation is a result of much effort on the part of local lawmakers. Lawmakers worked with the Brain Injury Association, the state Medical Association, and the NFL to draft the measures. The timing of the bills is pivotal, as troubling new studies continue to emerging demonstrating the frequency of concussions amongst sports players. A recent study published by the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine found that over 3.8 million concussion injuries occur each year and as many as 50 percent go unreported.
Lee Jenkins, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Mississippi, expressed gratitude that the bill was moving forward. She stressed, however, that she wishes it had been stronger. Jenkins and her Association pushed for the legislation to include youths in recreational leagues. However, neither version of the bills in the House and Senate cover recreational leagues. Jenkins vows the Brain Injury Association will continue to push for protection for this youth group.
The goal of these youth concussion sports laws is to prevent second-impact syndrome. Second-impact syndrome occurs when an individual already experiencing a concussion then sustains a second head injury. When this occurs, the brain swells catastrophically, leading to potentially severe complications. By ensuring each athlete suspected to be suffering from a concussion is not allowed back into the game without medical clearance, Mississippi coaches and volunteers should be able to prevent their young players from experiencing serious brain trauma.
The attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm want to see all youth sports players enjoy the thrill of competition and play while staying safe. To this end, the Giddens Law Firm applauds the efforts of lawmakers in passing this significant youth concussion law. For those children who have experienced a concussion while playing sports, the traumatic brain injury experts at Giddens Law Firm can help. Contact us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free initial consultation.