Over A Billion Recovered Nationwide
Sports Concussions & Head Injury Lawyers
Representing Professional & College Athletes Nationwide
Sports are an important part of our culture, loved not only for the entertainment they provide, but also by athletes by the opportunity to improve their skill, connect with other athletes, and compete on a national stage. However, sports do come with risks as well. Sprains, strains, and fractures happen every year in accidents. So do other, potentially more serious injuries: concussions.
Unfortunately, this issue does not solely occur in professional sports. For decades, the NCAA has promoted its organization as a protector of the physical and mental well-being of college athletes. With the increasing number of concussions within the NCAA, this is a mission our sports injury attorneys are calling into question.
Sports Concussion Litigation
Concussions and concussion-related disorders pose significant risks to many types of athletes. Concussions are linked to short and long-term physical, emotional, and mental injuries. Unfortunately, many of these harms are preventable. Those in positions of power have failed to protect athletes and/or inform them of the true risks associated with concussions, brain injury, and brain trauma.
Concussions can occur in the following sports:
- Ice Hockey
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when the brain impacts the interior of the skull due to violent head movement or a blow to the head. The impact triggers a cascade of microscopic changes in the brain and produces varying symptoms. A concussion does not always result in loss of consciousness, but a victim may have a brief blackout or pass out for up to half an hour.
Other immediate symptoms of concussion include:
- Confusion, disorientation, and inability to focus
- Ringing in the ears
- Lack of balance or coordination
- Metallic taste
- Strong emotions (i.e. anger, sadness, excitement, etc.)
- Vacant stare
- Slurred/incoherent speech
Following a concussion, the brain is extremely vulnerable to additional injury. Sustaining multiple concussions greatly increases the risk of long-term brain damage, especially if subsequent injuries occur before the previous has been rehabilitated. Repeated sub-concussions (hits below the force required to cause concussion) pose similar risks.
Diagnosing a Concussion
Concussions do not necessarily leave a physical mark. In fact, some patients may feel completely fine just a few minutes after the injury. However, without a visit to your doctor, you cannot be certain whether your brain has been damaged. A doctor can conduct tests to determine the severity of the injury and the best course of action for treatment. Some tests that are commonly performed include:
- Neurological Test: A doctor might order a neurological exam in the ER in order to assess a patient’s motor and sensory skills, the functioning of their cranial nerves, hearing and speech, vision, coordination and balance, mental status, changes in mood and behavior, and other abilities.
- CT Scan: A CT scan is a special computerized X-ray that provides images of the brain. It is often used if a physician suspects brain bleeding or swelling.
- MRI Scan: This test provides detailed images of the brain using magnetic energy instead of radiation.
Even if the MRI or CT scans come up negative, it does not mean your brain did not sustain any damage. It simply means it is not visible on the scans.
With proper treatment, the symptoms of a concussion typically clear up in a matter of weeks. However, in some cases complications can occur, leading to the development of the more serious post-concussion syndrome (PCS).
The symptoms of PCS mirror the symptoms of a concussion; however, they can last for months or even years after the initial injury took place. Furthermore, everyone may experience the condition differently, with symptoms depending on the severity and location of the initial injury. The condition can lead to a drastic reduction in the victim’s day-to-day enjoyment of life.
Common physical and cognitive symptoms of PCS can include:
- Constant fatigue or tiredness despite seemingly adequate rest
- Trouble with memory recall, concentration, and focus
- Mood swings and behavioral changes such as anxiety and depression
- Physical pains including persistent headaches and migraines
- Reduction or loss of sensory perception
Treatments for PCS typically focus on easing symptoms. For example, a physician might prescribe pain medications for migraines or refer patients to specialists for the treatment of psychological conditions.
While there is disagreement within the medical community as to the exact causes of PCS, risk factors can include age as well as previous head trauma. Due to the varying nature of symptoms, it is critical for victims to seek ongoing medical care and monitor their condition closely with the appropriate medical professionals.
Long-Term Risks Associated with Concussions
Concussions are linked to long-term brain damage and progressive neurodegenerative disease, namely, increased rates of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cognitive impairment, and, most seriously, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE results when a toxic protein builds up in the brain, kills cells, and eventually causes severe depression or dementia. Sometimes it takes years for the symptoms to appear and the onset may include Parkinson-like symptoms. Some may experience post-traumatic epileptic seizures.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
Repeated head trauma like that suffered by players of contact sports often results in CTE. During the first stage of the degenerative disease, symptoms are typically minor, including headaches and mild disorientation. However, as the condition progresses, CTE can cause memory loss, poor judgment, emotional instability, erratic behavior, vertigo, tremors, dementia, depression, substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts.
Unfortunately, several former NFL players who have taken their own lives were later discovered to have brain damage caused by CTE.
Many Concussions Are Preventable
Athletes involved in fast-paced sports are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of concussion and long-term brain damage. Abundant information on the dangers of concussions has been available for decades. Despite knowledge of the dangers, sports organizations and leaders have regularly acted contrary to the best interests of their athletes in many regards.
Examples of Negligence Leading to a Concussion
- A high school football coach fails to pull an injured player from the game and call for medical attention
- A youth sports coach encourages excessive force during practices and games or pushes players beyond reasonable limits (i.e. heat exhaustion)
- An organization (such as the NFL, NCAA, or Pop Warner) knows the risks of sports-related head injuries and fails to protect its players by warning of the risks of repetitive head trauma and properly managing head injuries
The Risk of Additional Concussions
A concussion is scientifically categorized as a traumatic brain injury, yet for years, the injury has been treated as a minor inconvenience. If an athlete was to suffer a mild heart attack, a sports trainer or coach would never consider allowing them to return without a satisfactory recovery process. Yet when the brain is injured many athletes are pressured to return to play before they are ready. Because their brain is in a vulnerable state, they are more likely to suffer a repeat injury if they return to the game too soon.
Concussion Litigation FAQs
When Can I Sue for a Concussion?
When concussions are the result of another person’s carelessness, the victim may have the right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their losses, including medical bills, costs of therapy and rehabilitation, lost wages, and other costs associated with short and long-term care. Our attorneys offer free consultations to sports concussion victims.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Sports-Related Concussion?
Though liability will depend on your situation, a lawyer can help you determine who you may be able to sue.
Potential at-fault parties include a:
- Coach or team official
- Sports organization (NCAA, NFL, etc.)
- Third party
Was My Concussion Treated Negligently?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rest is one of the most vital steps a person can take in the aftermath of a concussion. If you ignore your symptoms and try to immediately resume your usual routine, you could worsen your symptoms.
If your symptoms return after you resume your normal activities, or you experience new symptoms, this is likely a sign you are pushing yourself too hard. If a coach or other party urges you to return to practice despite such a reaction, they are being negligent.
Our Attorneys Can Answer Your Sports Concussion Questions
If you or a loved one suffered a concussion or concussion-like symptoms after a sporting accident, you may have the right to file for compensation. Not all concussions warrant legal action, but it is important to consult a qualified attorney to see what your rights may be. Concussions can seriously disrupt an athlete’s life and even cause symptoms far into the future. We’re here to fight for those who continue to suffer serious losses after the initial injury.
Concussion cases can be highly complex, so you need an attorney with the experience and trial skills to mount a successful case. At Shrader & Associates L.L.P., we have achieved a number of prestigious awards and recognitions. More importantly, we’ve already taken on huge organizations including the NCAA and helped our clients receive multi-million dollar settlements. If you are ready to explore your options after a sport-related concussion, you can feel confident in our firm.
Our Client Pledge
At Shrader & Associates, L.L.P., we understand the demands on you at this time. Our process is designed to decrease the demands on you, no matter the injury or concern you’re facing. No matter where you are in the nation, we will come to you so you can be sure you have our full attention and dedication. And, you won’t pay a dime until we win your case.
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Keeping Our Communities Informed About Concussions
With our experience and success in sports concussion litigation, our firm has become a resource for local and national news organizations reporting on the risks associated with this type of injury. Over the course of fighting multiple concussion cases, we’ve learned just how often this risk is concealed from workers and consumers. Our goal is to ensure Americans and athletes know about the risks that may surround them every day, and we are honored to help the media share this vital information.