Personal Injury

NHL Hockey Player Concussions and Head Trauma Lawsuits

Lieff Cabraser represents former professional football players and their spouses in a class action lawsuit seeking damages for the repetitive head traumas they incurred while playing in the National Football League.

Lieff Cabraser is investigating complaints by professional hockey players that have also suffered terrible and debilitating injuries due to repetitive head traumas during their careers in National Hockey League. The injuries include concussions and repeated head impacts, traumatic brain injuries, and latent neurodegenerative disorders and diseases.

Lawsuits filed by former hockey players have alleged that the NHL was aware of the danger hockey players face from repetitive head trauma and brain injuries. The complaints further charge that the NHL actively concealed the nature of the risks players were exposed to and failed to take appropriate action to prevent players from needless harm.

The Science Behind Concussions and Repeated Injuries to the Brain

The risk of repeated head impacts in certain sports and brain disease has been understood for decades. In 1928, a New Jersey pathologist, Harrison Martland, described the clinical spectrum of abnormalities found in "nearly one half of the fighters who stayed in the game long enough."

Follow-up studies on encephalopathy and repeated head impacts in sport were published in 1952. The risk of second impacts (Second Impact Syndrome) in sport was identified in 1973. It was also clear by the 1970’s that the patterns of neuro-degeneration associated with head impacts in boxing also occurred in other sports.

A 2011 article in the Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law of Harvard Law School summed up the consequences of concussions to athletes (footnotes omitted):

The brain is a soft organ, surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid and protected by the tough, bony skull. Normally, the fluid around the brain serves as a protective cushion for the brain, isolating it from direct impact to the skull. When the head suffers violent impact, the brain can hit the skull, causing the brain temporarily to stop working normally. This is called a concussion. More serious injuries occur after the initial concussion. A concussion causes brain cells to become depolarized and allows neurotransmitters to behave in an abnormal fashion, causing such symptoms as memory loss, nausea, and confusion.

After the initial concussion, when the brain is not fully healed, it is very fragile and susceptible to minor accelerative forces. Thus, subsequent minor hits may cause traumatic and permanent brain injury. This is the heart of the problem: players returning to the football field before allowing their initial concussion to heal fully. When the player returns to the field too early, he is at risk for what is known as Second Impact Syndrome (SIS). SIS is the event that ensues when there is a subsequent brain impact before the initial concussion has been given time to heal. Additionally, when concussions occur with high frequency, a disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) may occur in the brain. "CTE is a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive trauma to the brain which eventually leads to dementia."

Contact Lieff Cabraser

Please use the form below to contact a personal injury attorney at Lieff Cabraser. You may also call us toll-free at 1 888 321-1510 and ask to speak to attorney Wendy Fleishman. There is no cost or obligation for our review of your National Hockey League-related concussion lawsuit, and Lieff Cabraser agrees to protect your name and all confidential information you submit against disclosure, publication or unauthorized use to the full extent under the law.

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