In recent years, more and more families of high school football players have begun filing claims against the manufacturers of football helmets for injuries their children have sustained while playing football or during school football practice. These are serious lawsuits, and they are gaining national media attention: last April, for example, the New York Times reported on a suit filed by the family of Colorado teenager Rhett Ridolfi, who was left paralyzed after suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during a school football drill.
The Colorado court found that the helmet maker was responsible to the boy for his permanent injuries because they failed to warn about the high risk of life-altering concussion injuries that can happen even if someone is wearing a helmet.
We’ve posted before about the dangers involved with young men (and young women) playing sports; they tend to disregard or ignore signs of potential serious injury and in doing so, may not stop play or seek immediate medical attention even if they are experiencing signs of concussion or head injury. For details, read our earlier post, “High School Football Players Will Play Even After Head Injury and Concussion, New Study Finds: Need to Protect Kids From Football Injuries and Themselves.”
The National Football League Concussion Settlement
Recently, the National Football League (NFL) completed a multi-million dollar settlement deal with the 4000+ plaintiffs who had filed suit against the NFL for permanent injuries and wrongful deaths suffered by professional football players from head injuries sustained in playing the game for pro teams. The $765 million settlement is being distributed to the plaintiffs according to injuries sustained.
For instance, $675 million will be paid in compensation to former NFL football players and their families under the settlement agreement while another $75,000,000 has been committed to be spent in testing retired NFL football players for neurological and psychological conditions caused by head injury. Each plaintiff player now suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease will be paid up to $5,000,000. Those suffering from things like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s dementia will be paid amounts between $1,500,000 and $4,000,000.
NFL Settlement Isn’t Stopping Football Player Concussion Injuries In Pro Bowl or Elsewhere
It’s reported that NFL players suffered 189 concussions during the 2012 regular season (which averages to 11+ concussions/week) and that college football teams are averaging 2.5 concussions for every 1,000 “game-related exposures.
Moreover, 25,000 kids ranging in age from 8 – 19 are estimated to need emergency room care after suffering concussions while play school football every year.
There are more and more voices rising against the dangers of football, as it is being played in its current form, because of the high risk of permanent, traumatic brain injuries to the football players and the cruel reality that the football helmets cannot be assumed to protect these players from harm.
Football helmets do not stop brain injuries or concussions. Reliance on the helmet on a player’s head as sufficient brain protection has been shown to be misplaced time and again in this country.
Because of the NFL Settlement, we will not be able to read the NFL documentation that would have been released during the discovery process regarding brain injuries, concussions, and what the NFL may and known or not known about concussion risks and helmet unreliability for professional players. The settlement agreement stops the litigation process, and the plaintiffs are choosing to settle and move forward with the multi-million dollar settlement instead of proceeding with courtroom fights and demands for access to NFL internal memoranda, and other files.
Today’s Reality: Football Players of All Ages Will Be Seriously Hurt By Concussion Injuries in 2014
Every plaintiff in any personal injury case has the right to settle with the defendant as they deem best. It is the decision of the injury victim or the family left grieving from the death of a loved one that has to endure the added emotional stress of personal injury litigation while dealing with the realities of the injury itself. Compassion and understanding must be given to everyone who settled with the NFL in this landmark helmet concussion litigation case. We all want only the best for them.
Now, the football helmet controversy remains. It is a sad truth that children, young adults, and professional players are still going to be suffering concussions while playing football this year. Some families are going to lose someone they love very much due to a head injury from football. See, “Football Helmet to Helmet Concussions Killing Kids: Young Athletes’ Deaths Serve as Warning of The Real Danger of Fatal Football Head Injuries,” for details on the real people being hurt here.
There are people looking for solutions. A doctor in Texas announced this week that medication has been developed that may help brain injuries, for instance. A new kind of helmet, the Guardian Cap, is being promoted as a safer alternative to the current helmet being used by most football teams today.
In January 2014, the problem has not been solved. If you or your child has suffered a head injury while playing football, either during practice or at a game, then medical attention is the priority, of course. You may also need the assistance of personal injury law to address the long-term needs that these kinds of severe injuries can cause.
Please be careful out there.