Baseball may be called America’s favorite pastime, but football may in reality be more popular. Other than the presidential debates, professional football games were the top 16 shows viewed on TV this fall. So when a cause becomes linked with football, it gets a lot of publicity. Right now, one of the biggest news stories in football is TBI, or traumatic brain injuries. Thousands of past football players and their families have filed lawsuits against the NFL for traumatic brain injuries incurred while playing professional football. Some current players are questioning whether or not the game is worth the life-altering brain injuries that may occur. And it is not only the hardest hits that players need to be worried about. Researchers have discovered that even “subconcussive” injuries, which are not even as severe as a mild concussion can have lasting effects on a person’s brain, especially if they occur repeatedly.
Another phrase commonly associated with professional football players right now is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy defines CTE as “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.” This condition can lead to problems months or years after the brain damage occurred. Memory loss, depression, aggression, and progressive dementia are a few of the medical issues resulting from CTE. The death of Junior Seau pushed this disease into the headlines. Seau committed suicide, and experts believed it was because he suffered from depression caused CTE.
As a result of all of the publicity linking TBI with professional football players, Roger Goodell, the NFL football commissioner held a press conference on November 15, 2012 addressing the issue and promising more changes that will keep the players safe without taking away the excitement of the game. He said “My commitment has been and will continue to be to change the culture of football to better protect players without changing the essence of what makes the game so popular.” The NFL also donated $1 million to Boston University’s CTE Center.
But traumatic brain injuries do not only affect professional football players. They can be found at the college sports level, and even in middle school and high school sports. An ABC news article states that a football player could be hit up to 8,000 times playing in high school and college. Many soccer players and boxers also suffer brain damage while participating in their sports.
Does that mean non-athletes don’t have to worry about TBI? No. Anyone can suffer brain damage. Our firm recently represented the family of a young girl who suffered a brain injury in a serious truck crash in Virginia Beach. The case was settled for $21 million to be paid out throughout the child’s life for her educational and medical needs. And in 2000, the jury awarded our client $60 million for his injuries, including brain damage, after he was struck by a Norfolk Southern train when it derailed and crashed into the gas station where he was working. Traumatic brain injuries can also occur when someone falls or accidentally discharges a firearm.
Whatever the cause, traumatic brain injuries very often lead to lifelong medical issues which may preclude the victim from earning any income or even taking care of himself or herself. Compensation from the individual or company that caused the TBI will never undo the damage that has occurred, but it can help to ease the financial burden and give some peace of mind to the victim or the victim’s family.
About the Editors: Our personal injury law firm has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC). The attorneys with the firm publish and edit articles on three Legal Examiner sites for the geographic areas of Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Northeast North Carolina as a pro bono service to the general public.