Sports fans in Los Angeles no doubt know that the National Football League recently settled a lawsuit brought by thousands of retired players over whether the league knew that multiple concussions could lead to serious brain injury later in life. Now, former professionals from another major sport are bringing a similar claim. They say that the National Hockey League did not alert them to the risk of brain injury from repeated blows to the head.
Specifically, the NHL is accused of doing nothing to reduce the number of head shots in the game, for example by banning fighting or body checking. The league conducted a seven-year study of concussions in hockey starting in 1997, but did not take any steps to reduce the risk of brain injury among players until 2010, when it made targeting the head a penalty.
As a result, the ex-players say, they currently suffer from disabling brain trauma, at least in part because they were never told that it could happen to them. The lawsuit says the NHL performed an “active and purposeful concealment of the severe risks of brain injuries.”
The NFL settled a similar class-action suit in September for $765 million. That may seem like a large sum, but some observers felt that the total was relatively light, given the apparent extent of the traumatic brain injury problem among retired pro football players.
Very few readers are likely to have played professional football, hockey or other sport involving repeated blows to the head. But other trauma, such as a car crash, can also cause a TBI that was due to another’s negligence. In those cases, the financial burden of treating and recovering from a TBI should not fall on the victim’s shoulders.
Source: KCAL-TV, “10 Former Players Sue NHL, Saying League Didn’t Do Enough On Concussions,” Nov. 25, 2013