There has been a lot of publicity in recent years about lawsuits filed by professional football players over head injuries they have sustained in the sport.
Many of these head injuries were terrible and have even been linked to suicides. It’s not just bodies such as the NFL that should be held responsible. School bodies are also responsible for protecting student athletes.
Recently, Associated Press reported on how a former high school quarterback is suing the Illinois High School Association — saying it failed to do enough to protect him from concussions when he played and still doesn’t do enough to protect current players.
The lawsuit was filed Cook County Circuit Cook. It is reported to be the first instance in which legal action has been taken for former high school players as a whole against a group responsible for overseeing sports in a state. “Such litigation could snowball, as similar suits targeting associations in other states are planned,” stated the AP report.
The lawsuit has been brought by Daniel Bukal, a star quarterback at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles from 1999 to 2003. In an era when concussions were not taken as seriously as they are today, he suffered multiple concussions playing at the suburban Chicago school and, 10 years on, still suffers frequent migraines and has suffered memory loss, according to the 51-page suit. He did not play football after high school.
The lawsuit says IHSA did not have concussion protocols in place, putting Bukal and other high school players at risk. The lawsuit says these protocols remain deficient.
“In Illinois high school football, responsibility — and, ultimately, fault — for the historically poor management of concussions begins with the IHSA,” the lawsuit states. It labels high school concussions “an epidemic” and says the “most important battle being waged on high school football fields … is the battle for the health and lives of” young players, the report states.
As many as 140,000 out of nearly 8 million high school athletes suffer concussions every year, most of them football players, according to the National Federation of High School Associations. Some estimates put the number of concussions suffered by young athletes as much higher, in part because so many go unreported.
The AP report says eight high school students died directly from playing football in 2013 — six from head and two from neck injuries — according to a 2014 report by National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research.
Virginia has rules intended to prevent concussed athletes playing on. But questions linger about whether they go far enough. The Illinois case raises questions as to whether there are players from past years whose concussions went unheeded, who are now suffering from traumatic brain injuries or symptoms such as memory loss.
No athlete should even be allowed to play on, on the same day as he or she suffered a concussion. If you have suffered symptoms that may have been linked to an injury on the sports field you should talk to our Virginia head and brain injury lawyers. Call us for a free consultation at 757.455.0077.