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Georgia Governor Signs Young Athlete Law

iStock_000001221748XSmall.jpgGovernor Nathan Deal has just signed House Bill 284 the legislation that creates some important changes for kids. The signing took place at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. With this enactment, Georgia has joined 43 states in making sure young athletes are better protected from serious injury.

Through this bill, Georgia’s legislature has enacted new standards for young athletes suffering concussions. As an Atlanta injury lawyer with experience representing children and families, I am very pleased that Georgia has taken this important step.

The bill sets out new protocols that involve informing parents regarding concussion dangers. It also sets forth new guidelines for the identification and treatment of young athletes with injuries to the head.

Specifically, schools in the k-12 grades must create and implement policies intended to minimize injuries from concussion, inform parents of the risks of these injuries and remove athletes from play, both practice and games, who show signs of a concussion. They must also not return to either until a physician has examined the athlete and cleared him or her. Public sports leagues are now required give concussion forms to parents and guardians. They are also encouraged to apply these same policies to their young athletes and programs.

The national standard for young athlete protections began in 2009. A football player in Washington state was sent back into the sport after a concussion and ended up with a very serious brain injury. Reports indicate that the Georgia legislation was pushed by the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons, who team president Mr. Rich McKay was present for the bill’s signing.

The prestigious Institute of Medicine is now conducting a study on “sports-related concussions in youth, from elementary school through young adulthood, including military personnel and their dependents.” The committee has begun its work, including public forums that will be assessing these injuries from not only developmental neurobiology in children and teens, but the specific injuries related to sports and how they might be prevented with the use of protective devices and equipment. The effectiveness of these will also be studied. In addition, “concussion risk factors, screening and diagnosis, treatment and management, and long-term consequences” are also being studied.

If you or your child have been injured, please contact my law offices for a free consultation regarding your legal rights. I will personally consult with you by telephone to evaluate your situation at no charge to you.