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Do Helmets Cause Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have come into public awareness as a result of several well-publicized lawsuits and cases involving prominent sports figures. By now, it is well accepted that serious concussions and repetitive head trauma can result in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), or brain damage, by any athlete who sustains a head injury. These injuries are not limited to football players and hockey players, but extend to soccer players, basketball players, baseball players and lacrosse players. Frankly, any competitive activity that can result in an individual sustaining a concussion through collision with another individual moving at a high rate of speed or falling to the ground and striking one’s head on a hard surface or piece of equipment can cause traumatic brain injury.

Generally, in the setting of recreational activities and competitive sports, an individual cannot sue a competitor or coach or event organizer for injuries sustained in the course of a sporting activity. The law holds that the injury victim assumes the risk of injury by engaging in competitive activity. This general rule does not apply in the setting of professional sports, since employees are entitled to protection under Worker Compensation statutes.

Given the profound damages that arise out of many traumatic head injuries, including reduced earning capacity, cognitive and emotional dysfunction, reduced life expectancy, increased suicide rates and increased risk of early onset dementia, brain injury lawyers are looking under every stone to try to find compensation for young athletes who sustained these catastrophic injuries. For example, recently a helmet manufacturer was sued by the family of a young athlete who suffered a disabling injury.

In this case, the brain injury lawyer asserted that the severe traumatic brain injury suffered by the athlete was caused by a defective helmet. Under the law, a product, such as a helmet, is deemed to be “defective” if it does not serve the purpose for which it is manufactured, is more dangerous than is apparent, fails to warn of non-obvious hazards associated with its use or is manufactured in such a way that it does not stand up to a proper use.

In this case, the brain injury lawyer argued that the helmet manufacturer was negligent in failing to design, manufacture and test a helmet that would adequately protect young athletes. The lawyer also alleged that the helmet manufacturer marketed the helmet without adequate instruction or warnings. The helmet manufacturer argued that, though it offered a state-of-the-art design and instructions, football nonetheless carries a risk of injury that is an inherent part of the sport.  This case remains pending.

For questions about a wrongful death case, contact a wrongful death lawyer like the wrongful death lawyers at the offices of Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. for help.

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