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National Hockey League (NHL) Faces Concussion Lawsuits

Former Players File Personal Injury Lawsuits Against the NHL

Another major sports league faces numerous personal injury lawsuits regarding concussions and traumatic brain injuries from former players. This time, the National Hockey League, or NHL, faces as class action lawsuit from former players who claim that the league should have done more to protect players from concussions and the life-changing side effects of untreated brain injury.

The lawsuit seeks damages from the NHL, because the league intentionally ignored concussion symptoms and denied treatment to players. The lawsuit claims that the NHL’s inaction led to reduced interest in helmet safety and rules changes based on the latest investigations into traumatic brain injury and concussion side effects, and forced players to return too early to the game.

“This action arises from the pathological and debilitating effects of brain injuries caused by concussive and sub-concussive impacts sustained by former NHL players during their professional careers,” the suit says.

Reportedly, the NHL created a concussion program to study brain injuries and concussions in players in 1997, but the league took no action to reduce concussion side effects between 1997 and 2004, during the study period. “Plaintiffs relied on the NHL’s silence to their detriment,” the suit says.

The most the NHL has done so far, according to the concussion lawsuit, is create a rule in 2010 to penalize players who targeted other players’ heads.

“The NHL’s active and purposeful concealment of the severe risks of brain injuries exposed players to unnecessary dangers they could have avoided had the NHL provided them with truthful and accurate information and taken appropriate action to prevent needless harm,” the lawsuit says.

“While the subject matter is very serious, we are completely satisfied with the responsible manner in which the league and the players’ association have managed player safety over time, including with respect to head injuries and concussions,” Deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.

The class action personal injury lawsuit claims that hockey players can suffer as many as 1,000 blows to the head during one season, and that “such repeated blows result in permanently impaired brain function.”

The NHL lawsuit comes less than 3 months after the NFL settled a similar class action lawsuit with several former players to the tune of $765 million.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told The Canadian Press the league had “taken tremendous strides and put a great deal of effort and time and money into dealing with the issue of player safety, in general, and concussions, specifically.

“We were the first sports league in ’97 to have a joint working group to study concussions with the Players’ Association and our trainers and our physicians. We were the first sports league to do baseline testing, we were the first sports league to have protocols for diagnosis and return-to-play decisions.

“This is something that we have always treated as important and will continue to treat as important,” he added.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury Cases

For many victims, a concussion or traumatic brain injury is not immediately noticeable. Concussion or traumatic brain injury symptoms may not appear for several days after the initial trauma. If you or a loved one suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury as the result of an accident, the Strom Law Firm offers a free, no-cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today at 803.252.4800



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