While any fan of the NFL is aware that the issue of concussions and their long-term debilitating impact on professional athletes is a growing issue of contention and lawsuits, fewer are aware that these similar issues are now becoming prevalent among young people involved in high school athletics.If you played a contact sport like football in youth leagues, high school, or college not so long ago, you probably recall that injuries to the head in the form of helmet to helmet contact or intense hits were commonly not take seriously. Even when football players lost consciousness, it was common to see them back out on the field in the same game or at least the next time the team took the field for practice or a game. Football is built on a culture of “shake it off.” This practice of exposing players to recurring head trauma, particularly while they are still recovering from a prior blow to the head, is now being revealed as a practice that can have lasting adverse effects many years later that can be extremely debilitating.
A concussion involves head trauma that results in neurological effects. These brain injuries are commonly caused by helmet to helmet impact, a knee to the helmet, a hard hit causing the head to suddenly be jerked backward, or impact with the turf. While many concussions result in an athlete losing consciousness, this is not always the case. A player who suffers a trauma may remain conscious but exhibit other signs of brain trauma, such as vomiting, dizziness, confusion, impaired coordination, distortions in vision, or emotions that are contextually inappropriate.
Former NFL players and the players union are currently pursuing multi-district litigation (MDL) against the National Football League focusing on the long-term impact of concussion on professional football players. The NFL lawsuit involves two types of plaintiffs: (1) those pursuing compensation for players that have already suffered the debilitating effects of brain trauma injuries or have lost a loved one; (2) retired NFL players seeking diagnostic monitoring and future medical care for traumatic brain trauma.
The MDL action and the recent suicide of Hall of Famer Junior Seau, who suffered from repeated concussions, have focused national attention on the danger of repeated head trauma suffered by athletes. College football also joined the fray last fall by filing a class action lawsuit that alleges the NCAA failed to enact adequate safety standards and treat concussion injuries appropriately, despite being aware of the debilitating impact of brain trauma resulting from football related head injuries.
This awareness of the danger of concussion injuries suffered on the football field has now found its way into high school athletics. A pending lawsuit brought by the parents of a former high school football player from Bozeman, Montana alleges that he was continually directed to participate in football practice, despite recurring multiple concussions within a short time window and despite medical orders to the contrary.
When Michael Rouchleau was a junior in high school, he suffered a concussion in a collision with a teammate in practice. Although the blow shook up Rouchleau, he was instructed by his coaches to participate in the next play where he was involved in a helmet to helmet hit. Roucheau and the other play both began vomiting following the helmet to helmet impact. Despite Roucheau being diagnosed with a concussion and instructed to avoid contact for eleven days, his coaches directed him to participate in practice a mere six days later. At this practice, Roucheau was left unconscious after another hard tackle that also caused a concussion.
Tragically, Roucheau, who has filed a lawsuit against his former high school, now suffers a variety of severe neurological effects from the repeated brain trauma that includes seizures, intense headaches, mental confusion and impaired vision, as well as emotional and behavioral issues. Roucheau’s experience is one that is being seen in a growing number of high schools as well as other sports like wrestling. Because the science regarding our understanding of concussions has improved substantially, high school and youth league football coaches, as well as schools or associations that sanction these sports, must enact and enforce safety precautions so that young athletes are not exposed to long-term and devastating neurological injuries resulting from brain trauma.
If your child has suffered multiple concussions in contact sports, our experienced traumatic head injury attorneys may be able to help you obtain compensation for your child’s injuries. Our Atlanta sport injury attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.