traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a blow or jolt to the head results in a disruption in
normal brain function. While many different types of accidents can cause
traumatic brain injuries, a significant number each year occur within
the context of sports or recreation activities. In fact, the United States
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
indicates that nearly 250,000 people under the age of 19 were treated in emergency
departments for sports injuries that included a traumatic brain injury.
TBIs are extremely serious injuries that can often leave victims with
significant medical expenses, lost income, and significant physical and
emotional pain and suffering.
Because of these and other significant issues associated with traumatic
brain injury, many people who sustain a TBI during sports wonder whether
they will be able to sue to recover these and other losses they may have
sustained. Generally speaking, people cannot sue for injuries they sustain
while playing sports, except in limited circumstances. Of course, every
case is different, so anyone who has sustained a TBI while playing sports
should discuss his or her options with an experienced Atlanta personal
Assumption of the risk
Under a legal doctrine known as “assumption of the risk,” an
individual cannot sue for injuries that he or she sustained when voluntarily
engaging in an activity known to that individual to encompass certain
risks. As a result, if a football player sustains a TBI after a tackle,
he or she would likely not be able to sue. There are some cases, however,
in which a person who sustains a TBI during sports would be able to bring
a legal action. These include the following:
Traumatic brain injuries caused by defective equipment – The doctrine of assumption of the risk does not apply to sports
equipment that is defectively manufactured or designed. Some of the types
of defective sports equipment that may cause a traumatic brain injury
include helmets, skates, shoes, bats, and gym equipment.
Traumatic brain injuries caused by unreasonably hazardous conditions – Sporting events take place on a variety of surfaces and fields. If these
facilities are improperly maintained and that improper maintenance results
in an injury, a victim would likely be able to sue. Examples of improper
maintenance can include improperly installed or inadequately maintained
fixtures like goalposts or basketball hoops, cracks in pavement, uneven
playing surfaces, or unfilled holes on a field.
Traumatic brain injuries caused by intentional acts – Assumption of the risk does not include consenting to intentional physical
assaults that are not a normal part of the game. For example, while a
football player undoubtedly assumes the risk of being tackled, he or she
has not assumed the risk or consented to being punched in the face. Furthermore,
injuries caused by reckless acts that are completely outside of the normal
activity involved in the sport could be actionable as well.