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Liability And Risks Of Nfl Concussions

906 words - 4 pages

Concussions in the NFL
Concussions have been and will continue to be a major threat and liability risk to the National Football League. Head related injuries can have devastating long-term effects, causing serious brain damage, neurological disorders, and other cognitive health problems (“Concussions in Sports”). Within the past couple of years, suicides by former professional football players have been linked to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a disorder attributed to multiple concussions (Hanna). As a result, numerous class-action lawsuits have been filed against the NFL alleging “negligence, fraud, and concealment” (Brandt). Although the League has implemented new safety mechanisms ...view middle of the document...

The NFL would be held liable if the plaintiffs are able to prove all four elements of negligence- that the NFL had a legal duty, failed to perform that duty, and a proximate cause relationship exists and was a direct result of the actual injury (Rejda). Being found guilty for failure to satisfy its duty and misleading players about the dangers of concussions would not only require the NFL to pay compensation to the injured victims, but would also have a devastating impact on the organization’s reputation.
Even though new lawsuits will continue to add onto the thousands already filed, the NFL may be able to avoid legal liability through the defenses of comparative negligence or assumption of risk. Under comparative negligence, if both parties are responsible or contribute to the plaintiff’s injury, the financial burden is shared in accordance to each person’s level of fault (Rejda). Many studies have actually shown that players do not always inform the medical staff of head injuries, purposefully perform poorly on pre-season cognitive tests, and return to action before fully recovered. In a survey conducted by the Associated Press in 2009, about 20% of players admitted that they have neglected to report head injuries or have ignored concussion-like symptoms to avoid having to miss a game or practice (Hanna). The NFL may also be able to defeat the claims for damages by raising the assumption of risk defense. Many activities, such as playing football, have an inevitable and implied level of danger. By choosing to engage in this particular sport, professional football players knowingly assume some degree of liability and risk. Even though the NFL’s negligence may have caused the plaintiff’s injuries, the assumption of risk doctrine denies recovery for damages because players should have an understanding...

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