In May, 2012, football fans in Atlanta and across the country were saddened to hear of the suicide of one of the National Football League’s greatest stars, Junior Seau. The 43-year-old retired player died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, tragically leaving behind four children. The results of Seau’s autopsy were recently publicized, revealing the linebacker had been suffering from a traumatic brain injury caused by repeated concussions received on the field.
Now Seau’s family is suing the NFL for wrongful death, alleging the organization knew of the long-term dangers of repetitive blows to the head in the increasingly more violent sport, but kept these risks concealed. They claim the NFL failed to fully inform players of the possibility of permanent disability due to concussions, knowing that any changes to the game to increase player safety would likely reduce the organization’s profit margin.
The Seau family suit against the organization is just one of at least 175 the NFL has faced in recent times, all related to the permanent effects of head trauma. Plaintiffs have pointed to the fact that the NFL often glorifies brutality on the field as a “badge of courage,” while failing to mention this conduct could seriously compromise an individual’s health.
Professional athletes in contact sports assume a risk of injury when they sign a contract with a team. However, it appears possible that permanent brain injury may not simply be a risk for football players — it may be a certainty. While players understand it is likely they will experience injuries from contact, they are often under the impression that these injuries will heal. It is unreasonable for them to expect to suffer from a permanent brain injury that could disable them for the rest of their lives, especially when this risk isn’t presented to them before they consent to play.
While NFL players are currently receiving the most press when it comes to head trauma, traumatic brain injuries can happen to anyone. If a person is involved in an accident caused by the negligence of another person, and that accident leads to brain damage, a victim may have legal recourse. With the help of a personal injury lawyer experienced with brain trauma cases, victims can receive compensation for medical expenses, including ongoing therapy for rehabilitation, lost wages and pain and suffering. In the unfortunate event that a victim dies from their brain injury, their immediate family can also sue for expenses related to a funeral as well as loss of companionship.
Source: My Fox Phoenix, “Seau’s family sues NFL over brain injuries,” Barry Wilner, Jan. 23, 2013