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Chicago Injury Lawyer Warns Possible Liability for Salt & Ice Challenge

salt ice challenge The internet is full of fads, and lately, the trend of “challenges” has taken social media and video sharing services by storm. The latest challenge is known as the “Salt and Ice” challenge. It is an incredibly dangerous challenge that people should avoid, because it is almost guaranteed to lead to injury, and possibly even liability.

What is the Salt and Ice Challenge?

Initially, there was the ALS ice-bucket challenge. In this challenge, people had ice water dumped on top of them while being videotaped. In this instance, there was a minor risk for injury, but most people were able to engage in the challenge, have fun, and avoid trauma.

The salt and ice challenge is not the same. Parents should be notified as to what this challenge entails, because a vast majority of the participants are minors. Also, parents should educate their children about the safety and associated dangers of these challenges. Most of the challenges are advertised as “safe,” and they appear innocent, but in fact they could cause life-threatening injuries.

With the salt and ice challenge, a person must put an ice cube on top of salt on their skin.

Seems harmless, right?

In reality, there is a hidden danger that can lead to serious injury.

Salt forces the temperature of the ice to drop lower than it does already. All it takes is a short amount of exposure to cause frostbite and permanently damage a person’s skin. It takes five to 10 minutes before the temperatures do damage, but this activity can lead to permanent injury.

Already, several children have been treated for this very injury. Some have had third-degree burns. Their skin loses blood vessels underneath, the children no longer have sensation in the burn area, and the nerve endings are permanently damaged. Also, hair growth stops on that portion of the arm.

12-Year Old Suffers Serious Injury from the Salt and Ice Challenge

There has been one instance already where a 12-year-old boy suffered a gruesome injury after doing the challenge. The boy suffered second-degree cold injuries to his back that required him to receive emergency treatment from the West Penn Burn Center.

The young boy was on his stomach when his brother and friend put salt and ice in the form of a cross on his back. Then, they applied pressure, which caused immediate pain. The challenge is to see how long a person can last through the pain.

Doctors who treated the boy held a press conference warning the public about similar behavior. Doctor Ariel Aballay stated that those doing the challenge could experience first-degree cold injuries immediately, and these may take days to heal.

The youth injured in this particular accident had severe blistering that required drug therapy and a prescription lotion that must be applied four times per day for several months. He will not be able to swim or go outside without a shirt, and he must have his back washed immediately if he sweats during the summer to avoid infection. There is also no guarantee that his injury will heal without a scar.

According to the mother of the youth, the boy had the ice and salt on his back for 20 minutes. As a result of the injury he suffered, she has been reaching out on Facebook and YouTube to make sure that young individuals are aware of the potential danger of this challenge.

Injuries that a Person May Suffer in a Challenge

As seen with the 12-year-old boy, the injuries can be quite extensive. Because these injuries mimic the damage of frostbite, people are at high-risk for the following injuries if they participate in the challenge – and especially if they leave the ice and salt on their skin for an extended period to “win” the challenge.

  • Skin Blisters – Initially,  a person may see clear skin blisters that appear on the skin, similar to a burn.
  • Firming of the Skin – The skin may start to firm, similar to leather.
  • Permanent Nerve Damage – If the burn is severe enough, the person may have permanent nerve damage where he or she was burned. This means that he or she will be unable to feel anything on that portion of skin, which could be the arm, back, leg, or wherever the salt and ice is placed for the challenge.
  • Permanent Hair Loss – When the damage to the skin and follicles as well as the blood vessels is severe enough, a person runs a high risk for permanent hair loss in those areas. That means the person will have a bald patch permanently where the burn occurred.
  • Scarring – Severe scarring is likely when the burns are second or third-degree. It may require multiple cosmetic procedures to correct the scarring, but even then, it may still be visible.
  • Bleeding Sores – Bleeding, oozing sores are common in second and third-degree burns, especially as the blisters reach the skin’s surface and begin to burst; the blistering could be quite painful.
  • Infection – With open sores and skin surfaces, there is a high risk for infection. In fact, burn patients are given antibiotics to help combat the risk for infection. If an infection occurs, it could further complicate the situation and possibly require surgical intervention.
  • Amputation – If the burn is severe enough, such as third-degree, and the appendage is permanently damaged, doctors may have no choice but to amputate. For example, if someone were to do this challenge on a finger and the damage is so severe that he or she has inadequate blood flow to the finger, a physician may choose to remove that finger to avoid further complications.
  • Deep Frostbite – Deep frostbite occurs when the damage goes beyond subcutaneous tissues and impacts nerves, bones, muscles, and tendons. The prognosis for deep frostbite is not as good, and often requires surgical treatments, amputations, and long-term therapy.

Liability for a Salt and Ice Challenge Injury

Liability is difficult in these types of cases, but it can be applied. While YouTube and other social media platforms encouraging and sharing these videos cannot be held liable, there are parties that may be considered liable under Illinois law.

  • Parental liability laws could apply. In Illinois, a parent is liable for the actions of his or her children if those actions are willful or malicious. If a child were to hurt another or force someone to do the salt and ice challenge, while knowing the risk for injury, the parent might be responsible for the other child’s injuries. However, innocent play or two kids trying the challenge together is not applicable for parental liability.
  • School negligence could also apply. If the salt and ice challenge occurred at school, the school might be considered liable. The school, after all, is responsible for monitoring the children’s activity while on the premises. So, negligent supervision could make the school or the school district liable for the injuries and damages.
  • Negligent supervision in a daycare or childcare setting. Sometimes, the parental liability rule will apply if a child is injured while under the direct care of another person. For example, a daycare provider is negligently supervising children under his or her care, and children are injured in the salt and ice challenge.

Sometimes, there may not be anyone liable for the injury other than the person him or herself. Unfortunately, these types of cases are extremely complex, and they are not always successful. However, if you are the victim of the salt and ice challenge, and you were injured because of someone’s malicious act or because someone forced you into the challenge, you may have a claim against him or her in civil court.

Parents: Avoid Parental Liability and Warn Your Children

Parental liability laws in Illinois are quite clear. Therefore, if your children tend to follow YouTube or engage in these viral fads, you may want to have a discussion with them. Even if you do not think your child is malicious, a simple prank against a friend could force you to pay thousands in damages.

Injured in a Challenge? Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one was injured in a challenge or any type of accident, determining liability requires a comprehensive knowledge of the law. The accident law professionals at Malman Law can assist you.

We work as your advocate and will fight aggressively for your right to compensation. After an injury, make your first call to our team or contact us online. All of our consultations are free – we have attorneys ready to take your call 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

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