Sports are an integral part of American life, but a Portland head injury attorney recently expressed fears at the high number of sports-related head injuries occurring at all levels of various sports. From the very young right up to and including professional sportsmen using the best of protective equipment, tens of thousands of athletes are victims of head injuries every year.
Now, a former quarterback has sued the NFL because of repeated and traumatic injuries to his head he sustained during his playing career. Mark Rypien is a former Super Bowl MVP who spent six years with the Washington Redskins. His ultimate achievement was guiding the franchise to victory in Super Bowl XXVI, which was staged in 1991.
On March 23, Rypien filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that could have far-reaching implications, not just for the NFL, but according to a Portland head injury attorney, all American sporting organizations. Rypien claims he received multiple concussions during his 11-year career and that he now suffers “various neurological conditions and symptoms related to multiple head traumas.”
Rypien is perhaps the most high-profile name on the list, but he is joined by no fewer than 126 former professional football players, all of whom allege:
- The NFL was aware of the dangers and risks of repetitive, traumatic brain injuries and concussions for decades.
- The players say the league deliberately ignored the information to hand.
- In addition, the suit alleges the league not only ignored the information, but took steps to actively conceal it from players.
- The players also say the NFL did an inadequate job of monitoring players who suffered multiple concussions or other serious head injuries.
No fewer than 13 former Redskin players have joined Rypien in this latest lawsuit. They include Michael Batiste, Keith Biggers, Jason Doering, Brad Fichtel, Terrell Hoage, Ethan Horton, Ernie Hanet, Bruce Kimball, Ronald Middleton, Ed Simmons, Walter Stanley and James Steffen.
This is not the first lawsuit filed by former NFL players. At the moment, the league is facing at least half a dozen class-action suits and many other multi-action suits from as many as 1,000 former players. One Philadelphia law firm alone is representing more than 600 players. A website that tracks concussion and head trauma class action suits being faced by the NFL says there are 51 separate lawsuits currently pending.
They want a clean bill of health…or help
Rypien’s lawsuit makes multi-faceted demands. He and the other plaintiffs basically want to know whether or not they’re medically sound, and if not, they want some ongoing help. The suit seeks:
- Medical monitoring
- Compensation and financial recovery for long-term and chronic injuries
- Reimbursement of financial losses, medical expenses and intangible losses
- A commitment from the NFL to get the players tested and give them a clean bill of health. If damage is found, the players want the league to pay for medical care to prevent a deterioration in their condition
- If the conditions are serious enough, the players want compensation
The NFL says they’ve already taken protective action
While not commenting on the pending lawsuit, the NFL has hit back at claims they haven’t acted in the players’ best interests. The Commissioner’s Office pointed to a series of hefty fines and suspensions dished out to players for violent helmet-to-helmet hits, though admittedly this policy has only come to the fore in recent years. The league also pointed out additional rule changes which have been introduced to protect quarterbacks and wide receivers. They also moved kickoffs up to the 35-yard line, leading to more touchbacks and reducing concussions by about 40 percent, according to NFL reports.
These changes, interestingly enough, all seemed to coincide with a rash of class-action lawsuits by former players who were concussed during their careers. One wide receiver, Mike Furrey, suffered a concussion in a 2009 training camp and never played again. He filed suit against the NFL last autumn.
Other sports pose risks as well
It’s not just football players who are at risk of traumatic head injuries in the U.S. In fact, that sport surprisingly didn’t even come in first place. The list of the Top 20 sports with the highest number of reported head injuries requiring treatment in hospital emergency rooms in 2009 includes:
- Cycling: 85,389
- Football: 46,948
- Baseball and softball: 38,394
- Basketball: 34,692
- Water sports including skiing, tubing, surfing and diving: 28,716
- Powered recreational vehicles like ATV’s, dune buggies, go-carts and mini bikes: 26,606
- Soccer: 24,184
- Fitness, exercise and health clubs: 18,012
- Winter sports like skiing, sledding, snowboarding and snowmobiling: 16,948
- Horseback riding: 14,466
- Gymnastics, dance and cheerleading: 10,223
- Golf: 10,035
- Hockey: 8,145
- Other ball sports and unspecified balls: 6,883
- Trampolines: 5,919
- Rugby and lacrosse: 5,794
- Ice skating: 4,608
- Roller and inline skating: 3,320
Not surprisingly, the most dangerous sports for children 14 and under included the mainstays of football, baseball and basketball, but cycling still topped the list.
The problems with concussion and traumatic brain injuries is that they can be difficult to detect, and they can also have long-term, devastating consequences that take weeks, months or even years to become evident. Treatment and ongoing care can ruin a family both financially and emotionally, and victims can suffer ill-effects for the rest of their lives.
Oregon athletes are not immune from traumatic brain injuries. Thousands are injured badly enough every year that they require treatment in the hospital. If this has happened to you or a member of your family, you need to check out your options. Did someone else’s negligence cause the injury? Who will pay for the ongoing treatment? Should you be compensated. An experienced and highly qualified Portland head injury attorney can help. Give them a call and explain what happened to you. They will listen with a sympathetic ear, and then guide you through the process of how to recover your medical expenses, lost income, ongoing treatment costs and compensation for pain and suffering.