Kenneth Goldblatt | October 20, 2018 | Personal Injury
The family of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL claiming that the NFL failed to protect Seau from the debilitating affects of repeated blows to the head during his playing career. The suit is similar to the ones filed by over 3000 former players who claim the NFL withheld knowledge of the dangers from and long term consequences of repetitive concussions . Seau committed suicide last May and was known to have experienced dizziness and other concussion related symptoms, including insomnia, problems with short term memory and forgetfulness, and erratic behavior since the mid 1990′s.
It is undeniable that until recently, the NFL denied there was any long term consequences of concussions and that players were routinely permitted to return to the game, sometimes immediately after sustaining a concussion. Some players estimate that they sustained over 20 concussions over the course of their careers. However, with the death of several retired players and the medical discoveries that several of these players suffered from a degenerative brain disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which is caused from repetitive head trauma, the NFL finally acknowledged the reality and dangers posed from even a single concussion. This has led the NFL to implement new rules with respect to protocol of permitting players to return to play after suffering a concussion as well as rule changes within the game itself designed specifically to address the proliferation of concussions suffered by players during play.
The lawsuits themselves face significant obstacles including be barred by Worker’s Compensation Law and laws pertaining to whether the players voluntarily assumed the risk of being injured. While it is undeniable that players acknowledge football is a violent sport, a fact that most players take pride in, the crux of the allegations it that, notwithstanding the same, the players were subject to increased risk of injury because the NFL did not have protocol in place to diagnose concussions and monitor a players recovery despite knowing the dangers that concussions posed. Rather, harping upon the player’s self acknowledged toughness and unwillingness to be perceived as “soft”, the NFL permitted players to return to play knowing that this posed significant risk of injury to the players.
Despite the proliferation of concussions, the clear understanding of the health risks associated with concussions and the undeniable cognitive difficulties experienced by so many former players, current players continue to complain about the rule changes regarding helmet to helmet contact and blows to the head; rule changes that are specifically designed to protect their short and long term health. they argue that these changes are “ruining the game”. The hypocrisy is somewhat alarming leading to the inevitable question; Will these players that complain about the rule changes be the next generation of plaintiff’s to sue the NFL?