The American Association for Justice (AAJ) has released a report titled Concussions and the Courthouse that describes the dramatic and powerful effect the law has had on how coaches and administrators handle athletes with concussion injuries. To accompany the report, AAJ is also launching the new interactive website http://concussion.justice.org/. It has long been known through medical research that football players are at a very high risk of receiving a dangerous concussion injury, but this knowledge alone fueled little change in what was being done to protect athletes. Recent lawsuits, though small in settlement, have had a massive impact on player safety and have greatly increased awareness of the athletes’ risk for concussion among parents, coaches, and school administrators.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head that jars the brain’s soft tissue, which can hit the hard skull, resulting in a malfunction of the brain. A common fallacy is that someone has to be knocked unconscious to suffer a concussion, but loss of consciousness occurs in less than ten percent of cases. Every state in the nation now has some form of a return-to-play law in place, commonly known as “When in Doubt, Sit Them Out” laws. This holds coaches accountable for telling injured players to “Shake it off!” or “Get back in there!” when they are at risk for concussion injury. It is required that athletes, parents, coaches, athletic directors, school nurses, and team physicians learn about the consequences of head injuries through training programs and written materials. Athletes and their parents are required to inform coaches about prior head injuries at the beginning of a season, and athletes must be removed from play if they are unconscious or have a suspected concussion during a game or a practice. Written certification from a licensed medical professional is required before a player is allowed to return to play or practice.
Parents who are concerned that their child’s coaches and school administrators are not doing enough to protect student athletes who suffer traumatic brain injuries can visit TakeJusticeBack.com to download a form that can be submitted to the school district demanding that they take additional steps to protect their student athletes. If you wish to learn more about concussion litigation, Concussions and the Courthouse, and the new AAJ interactive website contact Thomas Law Offices for more information.