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Pace Law

Head Injuries In – And Out – Of The NFL

August 20, 2012

Toronto Personal Injury Lawyer Albert Conforzi – I came across an interesting piece about lawsuits in the United States regarding head injuries from playing NFL football. The NFL is suing over 30 insurers for refusing to defend the NFL in some 143 injury lawsuits brought by former players.

I wonder how long it will be before similar types of lawsuits are attempted in Canada, and how the insurers here will respond?

In the past couple of years, there has been a lot of talk about head injuries in the NHL. Indeed, our own Facebook page is highlighting the plight of people suffering from concussions. The NHL, no doubt, is paying very careful attention to what is happening in the NFL.

The NFL news story focuses on the insurance issues that arise in these types of cases, especially where multiple insurers are involved. Whenever there are a series of insurers exposed to a risk there will always be a protracted argument about which one of them will be on the hook when something happens. In sports where there is constant or repeated injury, the question is: when did the blow occur that actually caused the injury? The answer to that question can help define which insurer was actually on risk at the time of the incident.

The knowledge base regarding head injury and its “long tail” effects is growing exponentially. Even mild traumatic brain injury is now recognized as having the potential to cause lingering effects long after the acute phase has subsided.
The arguments about the sufficiency of headgear, whether it be for football, hockey, or skiing, is ongoing. Cases like the Sidney Crosby hockey injury or the skiing related death of actress Natasha Richardson continue to fuel research into the area.

My experience with traumatic brain injury lies more with motor vehicle accidents than it does with sports, but in my opinion they are both trivialized. In motor vehicle accidents, the potential long term impact of mild traumatic brain injury has long been viewed through rose coloured glasses by insurers to avoid compensating victims.

We are fast arriving at the point where insurers will no longer be able to deny what medical science is busy proving: head injuries have long term effects, and the effects are serious. Unfortunately, it seems that many people are going to be hurt before that message is received.

Albert Conforzi is a personal injury lawyer with Pace Law Firm in Toronto.

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