Contact Sports and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Earlier this year, a federal judge approved a settlement between the National Football League and a group of over 500 players, each of whom alleged that their participation in the league caused them serious long-term injuries. The crux of the players’ claim is that the NFL failed to adequately warn the players of the serious risks involved and also failed to take the adequate precautionary measures when head injuries were sustained on the field.

brain-001-1172516These repeated head injuries can lead to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative disease of the brain. One complication in the lawsuit is that CTE is only diagnosable posthumously, meaning after the player has died. Thus, the living players can only proceed with evidence that they have the symptoms of CTE, which include aggression, depression, parkinsonism, suicidality, and dementia.

The NFL’s Duty to Look Out for Its Players

The class of plaintiffs consists not just of living players but also of family members of deceased players. The case proceeds under a legal theory under which an employer, in this case the NFL, has a duty to warn employees that the job they are performing has a serious risk of injury. Additionally, the group of plaintiffs claims that when head injuries did occur on the field, the NFL furthered a policy of encouraging players to get back on the field as soon as possible. This, the class alleges, further increased the risks involved of developing a long-term and irreversible diagnosis, such as CTE.

New Research Indicates Amateur Athletes May Be at Risk

A newly released study by the Mayo Clinic looked into whether it was only professional athletes who suffered from CTE, and the results were frightening. According to one article reporting on the new study, the researchers looked at the brains of high school and college athletes who played contact sports and compared them to the brains of non-athletes. The researchers noticed that about 30% of the student athletes had signs of CTE in their brain, while none of the non-athletes had signs of CTE present in their brain.

While this is the first study of its kind, it is likely only the beginning of the query as to whether high school and college athletes faced the same risk factors as professional athletes. If they did, it may be that the schools for which these students played should have warned their students about the risks involved in playing contact sports.

Have You Suffered a Brain Injury after Participating in a Contact Sport?

If you or a loved one are suffering from the symptoms of CTE, or you believe that the repeated brain injuries you sustained while playing a competitive contact sport have given you symptoms that will not go away, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. As noted above, these cases are just starting to make it into the courts, and in many jurisdictions they are cases of first impression. It is therefore critically important to your case that you speak with a dedicated Virginia personal injury attorney prior to proceeding. Call (703) 798-3039 to set up a consultation with an attorney today.

See More Blog Posts:

Drunk driving crash victim to receive $2M from family of “Affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, May 11, 2014.

U.S. Supreme Court Discusses Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act as It Applies to Personal Injury Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, December 7, 2014.