Can a Personal Injury Lawsuit Make Sports Safer?

It is an unfortunate fact that in many people’s eyes, personal injury lawsuits have a certain stigma – when some people think of injury lawyers, they imagine a clichéd image of ambulance chasers and whiplash fakers. The fact is, however, that personal injury lawsuits play an important role in seeking justice for people who have been injured due to the negligence of another party. In some cases, personal injury suits can even create lasting change in an organization or government, leading to safer conditions for all.

This was demonstrated dramatically last year, when the NCAA announced that it would be donating $70 million to a fund that would allow current and former players to diagnose traumatic brain injuries. The donation came as part of a settlement in a personal injury case the NCAA had been fighting against a group of former athletes. These athletes, who hailed from across the country, all suffer to some degree from traumatic brain injuries. According to the athletes, the NCAA did not do enough to protect them from head injuries during their playing days, nor did the organization do enough to inform players of the dangers associated with repeated concussions.

After a series of negotiations that lasted for more than a year, the NCAA agreed to set up the diagnosis fund. The organization also announced several policy changes designed to improve safety on the field. These changes include the implementation of a single, universal policy that regulates how teams must treat players who have suffered a head injury. Critics had argued that the previous rules gave individual schools too much discretion over return-to-play issues.

The lead plaintiff’s attorney was pleased with the result.  “I wouldn’t say these changes solve the safety problems, but they do reduce the risks,” he noted, “It’s changed college sports forever.”