Massive Influx of Head Injury Litigations in NFL, NHL; Proceedings Likely to Impact UK Sports

Recent weeks have seen both the NFL and NHL in America come under increased pressure from health and legal groups concerning the misinformation of health risks to athletes in the 1970s and 1980s.

Former New England Patriots and Washington Redskins linebacker Timothy Petersen is just the latest in a long line of former professionals to add his name to growing list of NFL head injury claims. Petersen played during the 1970s and ‘80s, and is now seeking damages from the NFL, claiming that the repeated concussions he suffered during his career are a direct cause of the lesions on his brain and suspected CTE – chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease that affects the head and brain and was previously known as dementia pugilistica due to its proclivity to be found in boxers who had suffered repeated punches to the head. As CTE can only be diagnosed post-mortem, its symptoms are evidenced in the repeated brain trauma of the sufferer.

The documentary below goes into great detail about the symptoms and effects of this slow-acting, destructive disease.

The outcome of the case in America is likely to have repercussions in British sport, both in American Football and ice hockey here, but also including rugby and football. Professional rugby player John Fogarty was forced to retire at 33 after doctors advised him he was doing irreparable damage to his brain. As CTE can occur as a result of a single blow or the repeated impact of a milder force, professionals are concerned that more should be done to raise awareness of the dangers of contact sports. Moreover, as it is only able to be diagnosed posthumously, CTE sufferers are exposed to a greater percentage chance of misdiagnosis, resulting in clinical negligence claims.

It remains to be seen how the cases in America will go on to affect the wider sporting world, but regardless of the result, the profile of CTE will be greatly raised. Blackwater Law will be following the cases as they develop; you can follow us on Twitter to get the latest developments as they happen.

If you have been involved in a sporting injury or know someone who is looking for legal advice to make a claim, please get in touch today on 0800 083 5500 today.