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Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, Inc.

Traumatic Brain Injury: A Risk Not Limited to Professional Sports

Over the past year, numerous lawsuits from NFL players and former players have been making headlines as the players allege that the football league purposely ignored and hid information about the dangers of impacts to the head, specifically traumatic brain injury. The recent settlement of a major California case, however, is an important reminder that head injuries can have devastating consequences outside of professional football.

“The risk of traumatic brain injury is not exclusive to professional sports,” explained California personal injury attorney James Ballidis. “Head trauma sustained in school sports, as well as car accidents, is a common cause of TBI. Fortunately, in many cases, victims have legal recourse.”

The case involved Scott Eveland, a high school football player who collapsed on the sidelines during a September 14, 2007 football game. The collapse turned out to have been caused by extensive bleeding of the brain, which resulted in significant brain damage. Although Eveland's life was saved after he was rushed to the hospital, his ability to communicate and care for himself are limited and he will require significant medical care over the course of his lifetime.

In order to ensure that the people responsible for the injuries pay for the care that Eveland needs, his parents filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the San Marcos Unified School District and against the manufacturer of the helmet that Eveland was wearing. Personal injury lawsuits are intended to provide compensation for those injured as a result of negligent and wrongful acts and to ensure that the party or parties who caused or contributed to the injury make the victim whole. 

In order to obtain damages from a personal injury lawsuit for Eveland, it was thus necessary to prove that the school district did something wrong or was negligent in some way. Initially, the argument made to support a theory of negligence was that there was a delay in taking Eveland to the hospital, causing his injuries to become much worse. However, it became clear over the course of the trial that there was not sufficient evidence to prove this cause of action. It was not until a student trainer came forward to testify that the school’s football coach forced Eveland to play despite indications in the weeks preceding that he was suffering from a head injury.

Although Eveland’s attorneys initially requested $25 million in damages for the ongoing medical care and assistance he will require for the rest of this life, the case ultimately settled for $4.375. In addition to the cost of medical care, both past and future, personal injury victims like Eveland should also be compensated for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost earning potential or wages. Their family members may receive separate compensation for loss of companionship as well in certain instances.

These categories of damages exist to try to ensure that no victim of an accident or injury is left without fair compensation when harmed through someone else's wrongdoing. In the Eveland case, the hope is that the money provided by the California school district will be enough to care for the young man for the rest of his life and provide a sufficient measure of compensation for all he and his family have been through. 

Additional information on traumatic brain injury, including books and articles on the process of pursuing an injury claim after an accident, is available to the public free of charge through our office.

If you would like to request one of these free resources, or to discuss a specific legal matter with a California personal injury attorney, feel free to call 866-981-5596. 

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