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Head Injuries Suffered by Professional Sports Players

Brain Injuries from Sports Athletes

Athletes in professional sports are known to suffer from serious head injuries during their careers. A number of actions can lead to catastrophic and life-changing head injuries on the field. The frequency of these accidents during game play makes it important to identify who is financially responsible when these accidents occur. It is equally important to ensure the negligent parties are held accountable for injuries and other damages suffered by the professional athlete, as head injuries often lead to a lifetime of expenses with associated problems relating to ongoing medical needs, reduced quality of life and lost potential for future employment.

Causes of Sports-Related Injury to Professional Athletes

Professional athletics present a wide range of potential for head injuries. Football players may suffer these types of injuries during tackles or aggressive blocking by other players. Being pinned during a match can cause a wrestler to lose brain oxygenation or suffer impact injuries when hitting the ground or colliding with other athletes. Ice hockey professionals are often hit by pucks and damaging impact of other professionals on the ice. Boxers are widely known to experience traumatic brain injuries from being punched in the head. Baseball players and other athletes in games involving a ball or other equipment are often hit in the head with these objects, leading to brain trauma.

Sports injuries aren’t just limited to professional athletes. It is quite common for athletes that have been playing a sport for an extended period of time to have suffered from similar sports injuries as a kid, growing up playing the sport they love.

If you or your child were hurt in a sports related injury, speak with an attorney.
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Legal Theories of Professional Sports Injuries

There are multiple theories applied to claims resulting from professional athletes’ injuries on the field. These claims are often centered on misconduct, negligence and product liability.


Misconduct is applicable when the injured athlete alleges that the sports organization does not inform players of head injury potential or how to avoid these injuries. A claim centered around misconduct may assert that the injuries could have been avoided, had the organization performed responsibly. Other athletes can also be accused of misconduct when their behaviors are reckless or intentional, leading to injury.

Misconduct may be claimed when the injured athlete asserts that head injuries such as brain trauma or concussions are not properly handled. Lawsuits involving these paid sports professionals and head injuries often allege improper monitoring and encouragement back to the field after a head injury has been sustained. It is the responsibility of the team physicians and coaches to ensure it is medically safe for an athlete to perform and return to the field after injury.

Athletes have sued the NFL (National Football League), alleging that the NFL did not properly treat players with traumatic brain injury (TBI). The league is accused of concealing how TBI is a regular occurrence due to injuries commonly sustained on the field. Players asserted that this leading sports organization was fully aware that sustaining multiple concussions leads to TBI, yet did not inform players vulnerable to the risk of such injury for many years.


Negligence in professional sports is a common legal theory applied in cases. Negligence claims assert the team or league organization is responsible for the well-being of players under their care and management. Players assert that this relationship requires a duty of care to the athletes that is breached when head injuries occur.

An example of this is lawsuits alleging that the risk of TBI from head injuries have long been widely known by organization leaders, but the information that could have helped players protect themselves was withheld from those players who eventually suffered head injuries.

Product Liability

In professional sports, product liability claims may be made when a player’s injury is exacerbated by helmet wear or use of other defective equipment. Players must rely upon their equipment for protection. When the product fails and an injury occurs, a product liability case is likely justified.

Problems Associated with Head Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries such as concussion have been clearly linked to a variety of catastrophic results for players. These resulting issues include high risk for stroke, sleep disturbances, fatigue, mental health conditions and even lost libido and impotency. Repetitive head injuries are a major problem for professional athletes. When one concussion is suffered, the tendency toward future concussions increases by four times. This increase is even greater when athletes return to their sports activities before they have fully healed from the initial injury. Secondary impact syndrome can result from brain swelling and lost blood flow to this vital organ.

Brain injuries cause even more problems, such as memory loss, cognitive disabilities and even highly serious conditions like Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Legal Help When Head Injuries or TBI Occur

A personal injury attorney can help professional athletes who have suffered head injury or other serious medical issues due to their sport. Such a lawyer can help determine where responsibility lies for the athlete’s protection and well-being on the field and during activities causing such injuries. Evidence can be gathered by a personal injury lawyer to build a case around sports-related injuries and how the organization did not uphold its duty of care through protection of its athlete. Such organizations can be held responsible through individual suit or even a class action when other players are injured in the same manner.

If you or someone you love was injured on the sports field during pursuit of professional game play, call the Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law Personal Injury Law Firm now at 602-691-7278 for a free, no-obligation consultation.


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