Articles Posted in Sport Injuries

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In the past year, the doctors and scientists who study traumatic brain injuries have been garnering a significant amount of attention due to their findings related to brain injuries in athletes. One such injury is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This injury became the focus of the media because of the realization that many professional athletes have been diagnosed, after their deaths, with suffering from this brain injury. However, as time passes, research has shown that CTE is actually much more common than most people realize, and even high school and college athletes have been diagnosed with brain injuries that may be linked to CTE.

brain-114065_960_720Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a chronic degenerative disease that is often a result of repeated concussions and head trauma. This disease often leads to severe brain damage that can cause serious mental health and physical issues for those individuals suffering from it. Often, this disease affects professional athletes, specifically football players and other players of high-impact sports. This is because in these sports, athletes face repeated falls and head trauma, and in many cases these injuries are not adequately treated in the immediate aftermath.

A CTE diagnosis can cause people to exhibit signs of mental illness, such as erratic behavior, anger, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Unfortunately, up until very recently, CTE was only able to be diagnosed after the individual was deceased. However, there is some research that indicates that CTE may now be able to be detected prior to death. It has been noted that many players who were found to be suffering from CTE engaged in very dangerous and uncharacteristic behavior prior to their deaths.

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Historically, the doctrine of sovereign immunity prevented litigants from asserting claims against governmental entities. Over time, however, this concept of complete immunity for the government has given way to a more limited form of sovereign immunity, under which those previously protected by the doctrine are subjected to tort liability. However, certain limitations and restrictions still apply.

It is not always clear whether and to what extent a particular entity is entitled to immunity. In such cases, it is up to the courts to make the appropriate determination.

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983691_54702040.jpgThe mother of a high school football player who died during pre-season practice last summer announced her intention to file a lawsuit against the school system. She alleges that the school and its athletic department failed to adequately protect its players against heat-related injuries. Changes to the rules governing summer practices may help prevent future incidents in Florida high school football, but heat stroke and other injuries remain a serious problem for athletes around the country.

Isaiah Laurencin played in the offensive line of Miramar High School’s football team. The 16 year-old was 6-feet-3-inches tall, weighed 286 pounds, and had reportedly drawn the attention of college scouts. He collapsed on the field during conditioning drills at about 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. Doctors pronounced him dead at the hospital the following morning. The medical examiner ruled Laurencin’s death “natural,” saying it resulted from sickle cell trait anemia, which caused cardiac arrest due to physical exertion. Sickle cell anemia can cause heightened sensitivity to heat, and therefore higher susceptibility to heat stroke. Laurencin also reportedly suffered from asthma and hypertension.

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540232_90969225.jpgA Wisconsin court dismissed a boy’s lawsuit for damages sustained while playing paintball, when a boy on the opposing team allegedly shot him in the eye during a break in play. In Houston v. Freese, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals for the Third District held that state law precluded a claim for negligence because paintball is considered a “contact sport.” The law instead imposes a standard of recklessness, which the court held was not demonstrated in this case. Sports injuries occurring during game play have long presented challenges to attorneys, who must prove that an injury resulted from something other than ordinary game play.

Plaintiff Jett Houston and Defendant Alex Freese, both minors, went to a friend’s house in July 2008 to play paintball. Their hosts, Jacob Stelter and his older brother Kyle, had set up a paintball course near their home. Kyle, an experienced player, instructed the eight participants in the rules of the game, safety equipment, and safety procedures. All of the boys had protective masks, with attached goggles, to shield their faces and eyes from paint pellets. Kyle instructed the boys to wear their helmets at all times in the game area, even if they had been eliminated from play.

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308201_7286.jpgA federal judge in Miami has dismissed multiple claims without prejudice in a putative class action lawsuit against two football helmet manufacturers. The claim was filed by a father who purchased the defendants’ helmets for his two sons, both of whom are high school football players. Concern over injuries to youth in sports, particularly traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, has led to closer scrutiny of athletic equipment and more claims for damages when equipment malfunctions or defects cause injuries to players.

Most lawsuits rely on the legal theory of products liability, which holds the manufacturer or distributor of a faulty or defective product liable for damages caused by the product. In this case, the plaintiff pleaded breaches of contract and warranty, as well as violations of consumer protection statutes. The court found that he did not plead his claims with sufficient substance, but gave him until July 20 to amend the complaint.

Frank Enriquez filed suit against Easton-Bell Sports, Inc. (EBSI) and Riddell, Inc. in February 2012 over the line of football helmets known as Revolution Helmets. He states in his amended complaint that the defendants marketed the helmets as offering greater protection against concussions in young players, claiming a thirty-one percent reduction in the likelihood of concussion in athletes that used Revolution Helmets.

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1158220_39704248.jpgA national health care advocacy organization, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), recently released a report on injury-related deaths in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, entitled “The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report.” TFAH identified ten “key indicators” of injury prevention in state laws and regulations. The study ranked the states and D.C. based on the number of key indicators present, and it also ranked them based on the rate of deaths per 100,000 people. Florida ranked near the middle on both scales, with only six of the ten key indicators. The state’s annual rate of 66.8 injury-related deaths gives it the eighteenth-highest rate in the country.

Injuries account for over 180,000 deaths each year, according to the study. Among people between the ages of one and forty-four years, injuries are the leading cause of death. Injuries account for nearly 90,000 deaths in that age group, compared to 50,000 for non-communicable disease and less than 10,000 for communicable disease. The study divides injuries into categories, including falls, blunt force injuries, gunshot wounds, cuts or puncture wounds, burns, poisoning, vehicular injuries, and drowning or suffocation. In all, the lifetime costs of injuries, which includes not only immediately medical expenses but also the ongoing cost of care, lost income, and lost productivity, exceed $406 billion per year.

New Mexico has the highest overall injury-related death rate, according to TFAH, with 97.8 deaths per 100,000. New Jersey has the lowest rate at 36.1. Florida is just behind Colorado’s 67.8 and ahead of North Carolina’s 66. TFAH states in its report that it cannot say with certainty why one state has a lower or higher injury-related death rate than another state, but that its list of “key indicators” can offer states guidance on how to effectively prevent injuries.

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