When is a Sports Injury Cause for A Lawsuit?

Posted in Injury Law

In a previous post, I discussed the issue of “assumption of risk. Although pure “assumption of risk” no longer exists in codified form in New Jersey, if you were to just ask John Doe about the topic of sports injuries, chances are he would say, “hey, you chose to play a sport like football or hockey or soccer, and you get injured, it’s your fault.”

In a recent New York Times article, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen wrote about the growing concussion problem in The National Football League (NFL), and how the NFL has been under increased pressure to correct it. The article was in response to a concussion suffered by Cleveland Brown’s quarterback Colt McCoy. McCoy suffered a hard hit during a Thursday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He came to the side-lines and (some say) was obviously shaken up.  But, because he did not complain of concussion like symptoms (dizziness, vision, headaches), the Brown’s staffers only checked the quarterbacks hand before putting him back onto the field. It wasn’t until Friday morning that McCoy was administered the mandatory Sport Concussion Assessment Tool review, commonly referred to as SCAT 2, which doctors determined was abnormal.

 The troublesome issue, and subject of this and many other related articles, was that the test was not administered Thursday night when the injury was initially suspected. What made matters worse for the Browns organizations was that McCoy’s symptoms were evident at the team’s public relations interview after the game, when staff asked that the television cameras not use their lights, fearing McCoy would be light sensitive. What does that tell you?  

Not many of us feel a great deal of sympathy for the players. Yes, football is a brutal sport and by the time the players get to the pro level, each knows there are risks associated with playing.  And, most of us feel, “heck, these guys are getting millions of dollars a year to play a game.”

Is it any different for an 18-20 year old college athlete? In 2006 a 19 year old La Salle University football player suffered a concussion after a hit during practice. But, before he was fully healed, he was cleared to return to play. n a game after that, he was struck again (in probably what seemed like a typical football hit) but amounted to a “second impact syndrome” and caused significant and permanent brain damage to him.

Who makes that decision to put him back on the field?  The 19 year old trying to carve out his place on a college team?  The trained professional staff the player’s parents entrusted with their young adult child?

At the local level, we have ball fields all over this state for recreational sports for every age:  middle school, prep school, high schools and colleges.  

Stark & Stark represents clients who have been injured in sports-related injuries.  We understand the legal obligations for all parties to these sporting activities and we understand the limitations on liability the current law imposes. If you would like more information on sports-related injuries, please contact me to set up a free meeting here in my firm’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office.