Concussions and Litigation: the Beginning of the End for Youth Football?

Jeffrey R. Schmitt

By Jeffrey R. Schmitt

Last week, the NFL announced the settlement of litigation with former players claiming ongoing health challenges and medical problems associated with post-concussion syndrome. The effects of repeated and severe concussions from playing football (and other contact sports) has become a significant topic for the sports, medical and legal worlds alike in recent years. What was previously not considered to be a barrier for participation is now giving substantial pause when it comes to weighing the benefits of the sport, especially at the amateur level.

While many consider the NFL’s reported settlement a victory considering the potential damages and the duration of the proposed payout by the league, the issue is likely to create a ripple effect on amateur sports, especially at the youth and high school level.

The NFL and most colleges and universities have the financial ability and insurance coverage to defend and/or settle the increasing legal challenges, but lower level organizations, such as school districts, private schools, and private or charitable athletic organizations, might not. Along with this may come increased costs in the way of medical and training staff as well.

More than ever, effective planning in terms of safety instruction, medical care, disciplinary action, and liability waivers are perhaps the best and most useful tools these organizations have to limit legal liability associated with head injuries to participants, and, hopefully, prevent concussions and other head injuries.

Posted by Attorney Jeffrey R. Schmitt. Schmitt leads the firm’s Title Litigation practice group and practices in commercial litigation including banking, real estate, construction, and other matters for businesses and individuals. 

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