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Helmet-Maker Riddell Loses Brain Injury Lawsuit

Most brain injury lawsuit news space is gobbled up by talk of the legal challenges against the National Football League. NFL officials, among other things, are accused of downplaying information about serious head injury risks to professional athletes and encouraging hard hits that ultimately caused serious harm to thousands of players.

Often forgotten is that many of those same plaintiffs also pointed to other liable parties, including the makers and manufacturers of the equipment used in the sport. By far the leader in this regard is the helmet-maker, Riddell. The company was hit by many different lawsuits. A jury verdict recently came down in the latest of these, resulting in a significant renunciation of the company’s practices.

$11 Million Riddell Verdict
As discussed earlier this month in a USA Today story, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of a high school football player who suffered a serious brain injury in 2008. According to reports, the teen at the center of the case suffered a concussion during a football practice for the local high school team. However, the young man was not properly treated by the coaches and other adults at the practice. He was not brought to a local hospital and did not receive the medical care he needed. As a result the brain injury worsened, and he suffered permanent brain damage. The young man now has paralysis on his left side.

Following this tragedy, the family sought out the aid of a brain injury attorney who filed suit against various parties involved. The defendants included the school, coaches, as well as Riddell–the company that made the helmet the boy was using during the incident.

The specific claims against Riddell were two-fold: the helmet was defective and the company failed to properly warn others of the risks of danger. Ultimately, the jury in the case did not find that this particular helmet was defective, but they did hold the company liable for its failure to warn. They apportioned damages between all involved parties, resulting in a total verdict of $11.5 million.

The company indicated that it plans to appeal. This is expected, considering Riddell faces many other similar lawsuits. The company likely does not want to set the precedent of losing in any case in order to gain leverage in negotiations with those in yet unfinished litigation–including the lawsuit filed by thousands of former NFL players.

Brain Injuries & The Law
This latest verdict demonstrates a few of the foundational legal principles as they relate to brain injuries. Not every time someone suffers a brain injury will there be legal liability. Another party must have acted negligently or otherwise violated strict liability rules. But even in situation that may seem to have no outside wrongdoers, a closer examinations reveals many problems. Failure to provide proper medical care, making unsafe equipment, not warning of dangers, and other general errors are usually signs of negligence that may open the door to legal accountability.

Sometimes it is obvious who should be named as a defendant in a case; other times it is not. In all cases, however, it is important for affected families not to make assumptions on their own. Visit with an attorney who works on these matters, share your story, and get accurate assessments from a legal professional.

See Other Blog Posts:

Helping Parents Gauge When a Head Injury Needs Medical Attention

Understanding Punitive Damages Following Brain Injury