Brain injury lawsuits filed against the National Football league have attracted much recent attention. As blog readers know, thousands of former professional football players have filed suit against the league for various problems related to this issue. The crux of the suits is that the NFL knew about serious head injury risks from the game and failed to properly explain (or even hid) this information from players. As a result, the suits claim, these players suffered serious head injuries that will have implications for the rest of their lives–well beyond their playing years.
Our Chicago brain injury attorneys know that many are arguing that the suits against the NFL are just the tip of the iceberg, as many other athletic organizations institutions, and leagues may face similar legal fights by those harmed by the games. For example, a story from SportsLoop argued that college football will likely be the next bastion of brain injury lawsuits. The main reason for the possible litigation are the countless former players who are suffering now from the issues they were unaware of, or misled about, in their playing days.
In one way, the possible success of the NFL litigation may set the precedent for others to file similar claims. As one former college football played remarked recently, “It’s a beautiful that the NFL Alumni Association are lobbying as hard as they are. There needs to be something at the college level for all of us who blew out our knees, blew out our shoulders, in addition to concussions. There needs to be help for us.”
Of course, as we’ve reported on this blog, there are already some suits that have been filed against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Our Illinois brain injury attorneys have previously discussed an Illinois concussion lawsuit filed on behalf of two former Eastern Illinois University football players. The suit claimed that the NCAA failed to protect players from long-term brain injuries associated with multiple concussions. The plaintiffs in that case claim that they were often sent back onto the field after suffering a head injuries, without sufficient rest and treatment.
While this case is ongoing, there has yet to be as large a wave of suits on this issue implicating the NCAA when compared with the thousands of NFL players who have come forward and pressed for their legal rights.
That may change.
Many observers note that the outcome of these initial cases may set the tone for future litigation involving more players and more entities partly responsible for that harm. For example, the SportsLoop article noted that lawsuits have already been filed against the NCAA, individual teams, and medical personnel. That group of defendants may be expanded to include individual universities and other involved in the athletics.
The legal issues stemming from these cases is a bit complex. Of course the suits do not allege that the defendants intentionally harmed the plaintiff or explicitly caused the concussions. Instead the alleged negligence is more nuanced, involving entities that had a duty to help players or least minimize the harm suffered as part of the sport. The failure to fulfill that duty is negligence and may result in liability.
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