Troubles continue to mount for the National Football League, as more and more brain injury lawsuits are being filed by those who claim to have been affected in one way or another by the league’s action (or lack of action) which allegedly led to athlete head injuries. As we have discussed frequently, many former NFL players claim that the league knew (or should have known) of long-term harm that came to players because of the sport. Claims suggest that the NFL downplayed those risks and otherwise encouraged certain conduct on the field which increased the risk of player head injury. For many of these former players, their years on the gridiron have led to significant problems in retirement, with early dementia and other cognitive disabilities.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In the past, most of the claims against the NFL sought to assist those players who were struggling with the effect of long-term brain injury. However, this week several news outlets reported that two wrongful death lawsuits were recently consolidated with the concussion-cases. The Journal Times noted that the two cases both stem from the suicide of NFL superstar Junior Seau. One of the lawsuit was filed by Seau’s parents and the other by his four children.
Seau committed suicide last May, and his surviving family claims that he was pushed to commit the act as a result of brain injuries he sustained over his playing career. Like the concussion cases, the family claims that the NFL is responsible for the brain injuries by their conduct. After his passing, examinations were made on his brain. They revealed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)–a brain injury identified in many former athletes who suffer repeat traumatic blows to the head. CTE was previously only diagnosable after death, however recent advances now may allow medical professionals to identify CTE in living brains.
Reports indicate that here are many legal hurdles left to jump for those pursuing these matters. The case (which now includes over 4,000 former patients) was originally filed in federal court. The NFL countered by suggested that the matter had to be heard in arbitration pursuant to collective bargaining agreements between the league and players. A hearing next week will be argued on that very issue. As in many other setting, large companies and chronic defendants often prefer to have matters settled in arbitration, because the rules of the proceedings are such that they may be more favorable to defendants.
As we discussed last week, these high-profile traumatic brain injury cases have had the positive effect of raising public awareness of the harm caused by serious blows to the head. TBIs are far more common than most suspect, and regardless of how this NFL matter plays out, more and more people are understanding the risks. Yet, it is crucial to remember that the majority of TBIs do not arise in sports. Instead, car accidents and falls remain the most common way that local residents suffer this harm. When those accidents are connected to negligence of any kind, then those affected can similarly pursue legal actions to help in their recovery. For assistance on these matters in the Chicago area, please reach out to our brain injury lawyers for help.
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