Brain Injuries Send Nfl Players To Court

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The National Football League stands accused of obscuring medical information about the connection between concussions and long-term neurological problems, according to lawyers representing players. New Jersey football fans are keenly aware of how violent pro football can be, and brain injuries are all too common. Now the players are fighting back against a league they say has been causing more harm than good.

About 4,000 former players have joined the litigation, many of them suffering from a variety of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, depression and dementia. They say the years of concussive hits taken while playing football professionally are at least partially responsible for their current states. Several players have died of drug overdoses after battling pain and depression, while others have committed suicide.

Lawyers representing the NFL argue that player health and well-being is the responsibility of the individual teams and the players themselves. It denies liability for the injuries, claiming it is the team doctor’s responsibility to determine whether a player is seriously injured or whether he can keep playing. The federal District Judge in charge of ruling on this case is considering whether the NFL’s claim that the claims should be submitted to arbitration rather than the subject of federal litigation.

The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for NFL teams, in New Jersey and elsewhere. Should the league be found responsible for promoting a culture of violence ahead of ensuring the safety and health of its players, it could face legal repercussions from all players affected by brain injuries, both past and present. The issues under consideration could ultimately impact brain injuries claims at all levels of organized sport.

Source: New Jersey Herald, “Ex-players call NFL brain-injury panel a ‘sham’,” April 9, 2013

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