In 2013, the National Football League (NFL) agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit based on claims from more than 4,500 retired athletes and their families that League officials concealed the serious risks of dangerous head injuries from playing the aggressive sport. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur each year nationwide.
The NFL developed the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee in 1994 that would research the long-term effects of athlete concussions and report on player head injuries. The committee found that repetitive head trauma during professional football games were not serious injuries to be concerned about. For the past 13 years, the NFL has stood by this data, which accounts for all diagnosed player concussions from 1996 through 2001. Team physicians were supposed to gather research from concussion diagnoses and record information such as the player’s position, symptoms, and recovery time. In total, 887 head injuries were recorded in a log, in which “all NFL teams participated” and “all players were therefore part of this study.”
A New York Times investigation has discovered that this data reported was skewed and incomplete, with the majority of football teams failing to report all of their players’ head trauma incidents. The Times found that more than 100 diagnosed concussions had been omitted from the league’s studies, including serious injuries to top players like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman. Additionally, the publication found that “the NFL’s concussion research was far more flawed than previously known.”
According to The Times, “one member of the concussion committee, Dr. Joseph Waeckerle, said he was unaware of the omissions. But he added: ‘If somebody made a human error or somebody assumed the data was absolutely correct and didn’t question it, well, we screwed up. If we found it wasn’t accurate and still used it, that’s not a screw-up; that’s a lie.'”
National Personal Injury Attorneys
Lieff Cabraser represents former professional football players and their spouses in a class action lawsuit for damages for the painful and debilitating injuries they suffered from repetitive head traumas during their careers in National Football League. The injuries include concussions and repeated head impacts, traumatic brain injuries, and latent neurodegenerative disorders and diseases.
The complaint seeks damages for the players’ injuries. The complaint further seeks to recover fair compensation for the spouses from the loss of companionship, affection, and support the spouses have suffered due to their husbands’ injuries. For those players that have not yet evidenced the long term physical and mental effects of repetitive head traumas, the lawsuit seeks the establishment of a medical monitoring program. This program would provide specialized testing for the early detection on the long term effects of repetitive head traumas.