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Archive for the category: Traumatic brain injury
  • Ex-Football Player Receives $4.4 Million Verdict for Head Injuries

    Head injuries sustained by football players are sometimes played down as simple concussions. However, repeated concussions over time can lead to serious head injuries. For that reason, as we reported last year, 75 ex-football players filed suit against the National Football League (NFL) alleging that the NFL knew of the harmful effects of multiple concussions as early as the 1920s but kept that information from players until 2010. While that lawsuit is still pending, another similar lawsuit in California was recently settled for $4.4 million dollars. In this tragic case, a young player sustained a serious brain injury while playing football for his high school team, as explained in a Yahoo article: The (settlement) comes as the problem of head injuries in football has gained prominence due to lawsuits brought against the National Football League by former players complaining of ongoing life struggles from concussions. Scott Eveland, now 22, was a senior and a linebacker with the Mission Hills High School Grizzlies in San Marcos, a town 30 miles north of San Diego. He collapsed on the sidelines after playing the first half of a game on September 14, 2007, and was rushed to the hospital where doctors were able to save his life by removing part of his skull. But the heavy bleeding inside his brain caused him extensive damage. This horrible accident resulted in Mr. Eveland’s confinement to a wheel chair and he remains unable to stand or speak as a result of his injuries. It’s a tragic case and is yet another example of the dangers of head injuries. As we’ve repeatedly said in the past, traumatic brain injuries are serious injuries that have been ignored for far too long. Hopefully, high profile personal injury lawsuits like this one will help to further raise public awareness regarding the dangers and long term effects of repeated concussions and other similar types of traumatic brain injury. The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780.

  • NFL Claims Workers’ Compensation Should Cover Players’ Head Injuries

    Last August we discussed lawsuits brought by over 75 ex-football players against the National Football League. The players sought unspecified amounts of damages for head injuries sustained over the course of their careers. The players alleged that the NFL knew of the harmful effects of multiple concussions as early as the 1920s, but kept that information from players until 2010. Riddell, the helmet maker, was also named in the lawsuit as a defendant. These lawsuits are still pending and a hearing was recently held in Miami to determine whether the cases, which were filed in various federal courts, including Atlanta, Miami, New York and Philadelphia, should be consolidated into a multidistrict region. One interesting issue in this case is the possibility that the NFL will claim that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players should apply to the players’ head injuries, thus requiring the players to seek compensation via more traditional outlets such as workers’ compensation and disability benefits and the NFL’s medical and long term care plans. As explained in a Workforce.com article about this lawsuit, according to an attorney representing many of the players,  the concussions and other head injuries suffered by the players were sustained in ways unrelated to typical workforce dangers: While some players have been able to receive benefits for concussion-related injuries, McGlamry said player attorneys are seeking to prove, in part, that their clients face health problems due to negligence that extended beyond typical workplace hazards. So, while the NFL would prefer to limit recovery by the injured players to more traditional venues, the players claim that the league negligently misled them by downplaying the risks of head injuries and minimizing the long term effects of concussion-related injuries and cognitive disorders. The outcome of this case remains to be seen and it will likely be quite some time until this brain injury lawsuit winds its way through the court system and a resolution is reached. But, nevertheless, it is an important case and emphasizes the dangers of traumatic brain injuries and the risks associated with engaging in activities that tend to result in head injuries. The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780. Related articles Hall of Famer suing NFL over health problems (foxnews.com) NFL back Jones-Drew disparages head-injury reforms (sfgate.com) NFL questions validity of concussion[READ MORE…]

  • New California Car Seat Law Targets Older Children

    With the new year came new laws, including a new California car seat law that requires children to use a booster seat until they are age 8 or 4 feet, 9 inches tall.  The previous California law only required children to remain in car seats until they were 6 years old or weighed 60 pounds.  The new law eliminates any weight requirements.   Although children over the age of 8, but under the height requirement, are not required to use a booster seat, California’s Office of Traffic Safety has stated that it considers the use of a booster seat in the cases to be “best practice.” Because seat belts are designed to fit adults, a booster seat “boosts” a child up to allow the adult-sized seat belt to fit properly.  In order for a seat belt to fit correctly, the lap belt should be low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, with the shoulder belt crossing the chest without touching the face or neck, according to the Office of Traffic Safety.  If the belt is ill-fitting (for instance, it crosses the stomach instead of the hip bones), a child can be severely injured by the seat belt itself in an auto accident.  It can also be dangerous for children to put the shoulder belt behind their back or arm as it can increase the risk of head and spinal cord injuries. Parents or drivers can be fined a minimum of $475 and receive one violation point on their driving record for each child under 16 who is not using a booster seat as required by the new law. The use of booster seats has been shown to increase a child’s chance of surviving a crash by 45 percent, according to Christopher J. Murphy, director of California’s Office of Traffic Safety. Illinois Seat Belt Laws Illinois law also requires that all children younger than 8 years of age be properly restrained in a child safety seat.  Additionally, as we recently reported, a new Illinois law that went into effect January 1, 2012 requires that everyone in a vehicle buckle up (with a few exceptions), including backseat riders.  Previous Illinois law only exempted backseat riders over 18 from the requirement to use a seatbelt. The new Illinois law exempts passengers in ambulances, taxis, school buses, delivery trucks that make frequent stops and do not exceed 15 mph, and anyone with a physical[READ MORE…]

  • Another Lawsuit Filed Against the NCAA for Head Injuries Suffered By Former Football Players

    Image via Wikipedia Did the NCAA fail to protect student-athletes from concussions and their repercussions?  According to a lawsuit filed in September 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by two former college football athletes, it did.  The class action lawsuit claims that the NCAA turned a blind eye to coaches who instructed their players to use their heads for tackling, failed to establish a system for screening head injuries, and failed to fulfill its financial obligations to injured student-athletes who require ongoing medical treatment. The lawsuit points to a growing body of evidence linking concussions to depression, dementia and early-onset Alzheimer’s, among other medical problems, and accuses the NCAA of failing to to enforce safety measures that it enacted in the 1970s to protect its student-athletes. The plaintiffs seek to force the NCAA to institute a medical monitoring program to track the long-term effects of head injuries in former college football players and to pay for any medical care required as a result of the head injury. According to a 2003 study, college football players require a full seven days to return to pre-concussion health, and that athletes with a history of concussions are more likely to sustain future concussions. Despite this information, the current NCAA system allows athletes to return to the field the day after sustaining a concussion. The name plaintiffs in the class action litigation are former University of Central Arkansas wide receiver Derek K. Owens and former Northwestern University offensive lineman Alex Rucks, both of whom claim that have suffered irreparable brain trauma as a result of concussions sustained during their college football careers. This is not the first lawsuit of its kind that has been filed against the NCAA.  Earlier in September, former Eastern Illinois player Adrian Arrington filed a lawsuit alleging that the NCAA “failed its student-athletes — choosing instead to sacrifice them on an altar of money and profits” by neglecting to adopt stricter standards for promoting safe play and tackling techniques.  The NCAA calls the most recent lawsuit “merely a copycat” of the Arrington lawsuit and says that it “contains gross misstatements.” According to the Brain Injury Association of America, an estimated 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year.  Amidst growing concerns about head injuries to young athletes, the NCAA now requires member schools to enact concussion-management plans whereby schools[READ MORE…]

  • Former Players Sue NFL Over Head Injuries

    Last month, 75 ex-football players filed suit the National Football League seeking unspecified amounts of damages for head injuries sustained over their careers. In the lawsuit, the players allege that the NFL knew of the harmful effects of multiple concussions as early as the 1920s, but kept that information from players until 2010. Riddell, the helmet maker, is also named in the lawsuit as a defendant. As explained in this ESPN article, the players contend that the NFL knowingly withheld that information from them, to their detriment: The lawsuit…alleges that the NFL did not admit that multiple concussions can affect memory and cause dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) until 2010… Riddell spokeswoman Laura Moore said the company had not yet reviewed the complaint and its policy was to not comment on pending litigation. CTE is a degenerative brain condition that has been linked to the deaths of several former NFL players, including former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson and former Cincinnati Bengal Chris Henry…. However, the suit claims that an NFL-authorized 1994 study concluded there was “no evidence of worsening injury or chronic cumulative effects” from multiple concussions. The NFL only warned active players in June 2010 of the risks associated with multiple concussions and Riddell failed to warn active players until about the same time, the suit claims. The lawsuit was filed in state court in Los Angeles, California. Traumatic brain injury is a serious problem, especially for football players and other athletes. For that reason, as we discussed in this post, the FTC has been investigating marketing claims made by Riddell and other football helmet manufacturers. Traumatic brain injuries, like concussions, are never “mild”–they are serious injuries that have been ignored for far too long. Hopefully, high profile personal injury lawsuits like this one will help to further raise public awareness regarding the dangers and long term effects of repeated concussions and other similar types of traumatic brain injury. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.  

  • HBO’s “Hot Coffee”: The Perils of Tort Reform

    Part of HBO’s summer lineup includes “Hot Coffee,” a documentary that investigates the principles behind tort reform and how it “threatens to restrict the rights of everyday citizens and undermine the civil justice system.”  The documentary, which aired on June 27, was directed and produced by Susan Saladoff, a former public interest lawyer and first time filmmaker. The documentary highlights the importance of our country’s civil justice system and focuses on the ways that tort reform threatens the system.  The series discussed four high profile lawsuits, beginning with the infamous McDonald’s “hot coffee” lawsuit in which a jury awarded Stella Liebeck $2.86 million when she sued McDonald’s after spilling hot coffee on herself in 1990 and suffering severe burns. The documentary includes “man-on-the-street” interviews in which each of the respondents expressed an initial opinion that the McDonald’s “hot coffee” case was egregious, at least to some degree, on the part of the plaintiff.  After being shown gruesome photos of the plaintiff’s burned pelvic area, however, the respondents’ opinions seem to vacillate. The series goes on to showcase three other exceptional lawsuits and political tactics: (1) the case of a 16-year-old whose severe brain injury was due to medical malpractice but whose damages were limited to only 1/5 of what the jury determined his family was owed due to the state’s cap on malpractice damages; (2) the smear campaign against Justice Oliver Diaz, an anti-tort reform state supreme court justice from Mississippi; and (3) the case of a young Halliburton employee who was drugged and raped while deployed in Iraq and sought civil damages against her employer but was denied a jury trial due to a mandatory arbitration clause in the employment agreement she had signed. The documentary’s overarching theme focuses on how the public, consumers and voters are being fooled by the arguments of tort reform advocates.  Our civil justice system and the Constitution afford us the right to a jury trial, but tort reformists are attempting to remove, or severely restrict, this right through measures such as damage caps and mandatory arbitration. The film exposes Corporate America’s manipulation of the public to think that “freeloaders” have flooded the civil justice system and that the majority of civil lawsuits are frivolous – until, that is, they have been wronged and their access to the civil court system is restricted.  The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are[READ MORE…]

  • Study Reveals Cell Phone Radiation Affects Brain Activity

    Chicago Product Liability Attorney Illinois Personal Injury Attorney Despite claims to the contrary by the cell phone industry, a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) revealed that there is, in fact, be a link between cell phone use and brain activity. In conducting its study, researchers from NIH examined 47 participants who underwent two brain scans – one scan while a cell phone connected to a muted call was attached to the right ear and another scan while the phone was turned off.    The scans were conducted using an imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET scan).   Neither the participants nor the researchers were aware of whether the cell phones were turned on or off while the scan was conducted. The study found that when the phone was turned on, the glucose metabolism (or energy conversion rate) in the section of the brain closest to the phone’s antenna was approximately 7% higher than when the cell phone was turned off. Essentially a cell phone acts like a radio – when talking on a cell phone, voices and sounds are transmitted through the antenna as radio frequency radiation.  Depending on how close the antenna is placed to a person’s head, anywhere between 20% and 60% of the radiation transmitted by the cell phone is transferred to the user’s brain. Because of the potential injuries associated with exposure to radiation, it is advisable to take certain precautions when using a cell phone in order to decrease exposure to harmful radio frequencies. Use your cell phone on speakerphone as much as possible. Do not use your cell phone as an alarm clock.  Cell phones can emit radio frequency radiation even when you are not talking on the phone. Text, instead of calling, since texting keeps the phone farther away from your head. Use a radiation-blocking cell phone case. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • FTC to Investigate Football Helmet Claims in Attempt to Increase Safety

    Chicago Personal Injury Accident Attorney Illinois Personal Injury Attorney The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently examining the marketing practices and claims made by Riddell and other leading manufacturers of football helmets that their football helmets help reduce concussions.  The FTC agreed to look into the marketing claims at the prompting of Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.Mex) who believes that the helmet manufacturers use “misleading safety claims and deceptive practices” to sell their helmets. The chairman of the FTC agreed, in a letter to Sen. Udall, that there are “serious concerns” regarding the manufacturers’ marketing claims and that “[g]iven the dangers that concussions pose for young athletes engaged in contact sports, it is essential that advertising for products claiming to reduce the risk of this injury be truthful and substantiated.” Sen. Udall is particularly concerned with Riddell’s claims on its website that “research shows a 31 percent reduction in the risk of concussion in players wearing a Riddell Revolution football helmet when compared to traditional helmets.”  He states that there is very little scientific evidence to support this claim and that the voluntary industry standard fails to address claims regarding the reduction or prevention of concussions. The FTC could choose to proceed in a number of ways.  It could decide to launch a formal investigation into the claims, which could result in formal charges of deceptive advertising or a cease-and-desist order. Efforts to Prevent Concussions This is not Sen. Udall’s first prompting of increased football helmet safety.  Last fall, he asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to investigate the safety standards for football helmets to determine whether they are adequate to prevent concussions in young players.  According to the CPSC, the commission plans to assist with the improvement of helmet safety standards and testing mechanisms. Football helmet safety has received increased attention in recent years since a study in 2000 revealed that more than 60 percent of the 1,090 former NFL players surveyed had suffered at least one concussion in their careers, and more than 26 percent had suffered three or more concussions.  Those who had suffered concussions during their football career had increased problems with memory, concentration, speech, headaches and other neurological problems A concussion occurs when the head accelerates quickly and then suddenly stops or is rapidly rotated, and can occur even if the head does not come into contact with a hard surface.  During a concussion, the[READ MORE…]

  • New Jersey Governor Signs Brain Injury Awareness Legislation

    There is no such thing as a “mild” concussion, according to recent scientific research. Every brain injury is a traumatic brain injury and requires careful medical follow up. Recent studies have shown that young athletes are increasingly suffering from concussions at an alarming rate. This marked increase in student athlete brain injuries prompted the United States Congress to consider the passage of the “Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act.” This is an important piece of legislation. First, it will educate the public about concussions and would dispel the myth that they are “mild injuries.” Second, it will protect school-age children by establishing preventative guidelines, educational policies and standardized treatment procedures. New Jersey has taken notice of the importance of addressing this issue and has followed suit, passing legislation that creates a multi-pronged concussion awareness and prevention program. As explained in this NJ.com blog post, like the federal legislation discussed above, the New Jersey law focuses on the protection and treatment of injured student athletes: The strictest part of New Jersey’s law states student-athletes suspected of having sustained a concussion will be immediately removed from participation and not allowed to return to athletic activity until he or she is evaluated by a concussion specialist. The Brain Injury Association of America estimates 3.8 million sports-and-recreation-related concussions occur in the country each year. Approximately 40.5 percent of high school athletes who suffer from concussions return to play too soon, setting themselves up for more severe injuries, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy in Ohio. Like the federal legislation, the New Jersey law helps to emphasize the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries, like concussions, and aids in the prevention and treatment of concussions in child athletes. Kudos to Governor Christie for signing this law and for raising awareness about this important issue. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. Related articles Comprehensive Concussion Safety Bill to Protect New Jersey’s Student-Athletes Signed (gloucestercitynews.net) Sharon Chirban, Ph.D.: Concussions: Using ImPACT in Schools to Measure Athletes’ Post-Concussive Brain Function (huffingtonpost.com) Concussion Symptoms May Differ in Girls and Boys (webmd.com) Congress Moves To Prevent Student Brain Injuries (education.change.org)

  • A Look Back at 2010

    2010 was a memorable year and throughout the year we covered an assortment of interesting legal issues on this blog. There were a few, however, that stood out and that we discussed repeatedly. First, a notable decision for Chicago was the United States Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago (08-1521). At issue in McDonald was whether the Second Amendment is incorporated into the Due Process Clause or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, thus making it applicable to the States and invalidating ordinances prohibiting possession of handguns in the home. The Court’s decision was arguably a victory for proponents of the Second Amendment. Essentially, the Court reaffirmed the right to bear arms, although, interestingly, many commentators noted that the decision appeared to be deliberately vague and didn’t even specifically address the Chicago gun laws at issue in the case. Another issue that cropped up repeatedly in 2010 was the danger of distracted driving, whether in the context of texting while driving or iPads in cars. While everyone necessarily agrees that distracted driving is dangerous, the solution isn’t as obvious as the problem itself. As we explained in this post, instead of simply enacting laws banning distracted driving, the focus should be on educating people about the hazards of all types of distracted driving, while also passing laws that forbid people from engaging in very specific types distracting activities while driving. Finally, another issue that we blogged about a number of times in 2010 was traumatic brain injuries–especially in young athletes. In March we explained that traumatic brain injuries are rarely mild. Then in September we discussed how student athletes are increasingly at risk for concussions and similar issues and reported that Congress was considering passage of the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act. The Act will help to educate the public about concussions and establish preventative guidelines, educational policies and standardized treatment procedures. Concussions are serious injuries and in 2010, this issue began to get the attention it deserved. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

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