Who's Really Responsible for Superbowl Injuries?

The following is a guest post from Rick Console, a New Jersey personal injury attorney from Console and Hollawell, PC.

Who is going to the Superbowl this year? It's still way too early to tell, but that doesn't stop most of us from picking our favorites. If you're a Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, or New England Patriots fan, you're in good shape. If you're a Miami Dolphins fan you're probably slightly more subdued around the water cooler. Still, February is a long way away, and anything can happen. And that's one of the reasons why football fans are so loyal, why they don't just watch the game--they live it. There are not that many other sports we would willingly give up three hours every Sunday afternoon for, or every Monday night.

What is it we love about football so much? For most of us, watching football feeds our competitive natures. Most of us will never get to prove our mettle on the gridiron, yet for those few hours on Sunday, we can pretend that we're in on the action.

Football is an aggressive, action-oriented sport. And maybe a part of us, even if it's just a small part, enjoys that aspect of the game as well. We can afford to, sitting on the sidelines. Professional football players, on the other hand, experience a high rate of injury. Despite wearing helmets head injuries are prevalent among the pros, many of whom sustain multiple concussions throughout their careers. Several studies have proven that multiple concussions lead to long-term damage. This long-term damage has even been given a name--concussion syndrome.

Who is responsible for these injuries? The players themselves, who willingly participate? The NFL? Or could it be Riddell, the manufacturer of the helmets worn by pro football players? A lawsuit, brought by more than 125 players against both the league and Riddell, may eventually help us answer that question. In addition to this class action suit, there are three personal injury cases against the NFL being brought in California, and one in Pennsylvania.

The players are suing the league and helmet manufacturer due to five complaints brought in state and federal court over the past few months. They say the NFL was aware of the dangers of head injuries, fraudulently concealed the long-term effects of concussions, and should have done more to protect and help retired players. Plaintiffs are seeking league changes so others don't suffer from the same damage, a medical process that ensures those who have head injuries related to professional football receive medical attention for the injury for as long as they need it, and compensation.

The NFL is countering that they are not responsible for the medical issues that some of the players are facing, because the players knew there were risks of injury when they decided to play football.

After a hearing on Wednesday, October 19, in which a Senate committee discussed whether manufacturers of sports equipment make fraudulent claims, the NFL did make several changes, including changing its return-to-play policies and the co-chairmen of its committee on concussions.

While exact figures are unknown, the plaintiffs are collectively seeking millions of dollars in damages. The suit could take years to be resolved.

In the meantime, I suspect that this litigation won't dampen the nation's desire to watch football. Whether the players win or lose, we hope that something good comes out of this, and that more stringent safety measures and more comprehensive treatment plans minimize the incidence of concussion syndrome. While there will always be danger associated with any competitive game, the people who entertain us on the gridiron should be granted the safest "work" environment possible.

Rick Console is a New Jersey personal injury attorney who has been protecting and representing the rights of injury victims for 17 years. In addition to representing those injured in motor vehicle accidents, he has successfully handled thousands of cases related to wrongful death, slips and falls, medical malpractice and other accidents resulting from the negligence of others . Console is licensed to practice in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and has offices in both Marlton, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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