Brain Injury in Sport Lawsuits – Q&A
We represent hundreds of current and former rugby union, rugby league and football players with neurological impairments as a result, we allege, of playing those sports. We contend that the governing bodies of those sports were negligent in failing to protect their players from concussions and sub-concussions, as well as fully highlighting to those players the full extent of the risks.
We believe dementia in contact sports is an industrial disease, similar, say, to working in a factory and suffering hearing loss.
Dementia is a broad term for neuro-related diseases and conditions characterized by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that affect a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain condition associated with repeated blows to the head – and is common in sportsmen and women playing contact sports.
Jeff Astle, the England international footballer, was found to have CTE, as well as many American football and rugby players. CTE is also associated with the development of dementia. Potential signs of CTE are problems with thinking and memory, personality changes, and behavioural changes, including aggression and depression.
You can suffered a concussion even if you have not been knocked out cold. You may have suffered concussive injuries without realising it.
Brain damage is caused by the accumulation of sub-concussions, too. if you are suffering a sub-concussion every time you head the ball, this total can soon rack up.
Sportsmen and women who have played contact sport for a sustained period of time could have suffered tens of thousands of sub-concussions – and that can cause significant brain trauma, leading to dementia, in later life.
We believe this is a life and death issue.
We have two key objectives in representing current and former players with brain damage: 1) to achieve financial compensation for those players to ensure that they are their families are looked after long-term; and 2) to help keep this issue in the public domain to force through change, so that current and future players are better protected.
It is 20 years since the former England international football player, Jeff Astle, died from CTE at the age of 59. We can go further back in time to, for example, 1993, when Danny Blanchflower died from Alzheimer’s, or way back to the 1930s, when the great Dixie Dean used to carry aspirin in his pocket due to the headaches he suffered from heading the ball. There are many other examples of sportsmen and women suffering from brain injuries as a result of playing their sport.
Given the lack of progress, we believe that only tort law can achieve our two main objectives. Any self-regulating organization will never change at the speed it has to. It is like turkeys voting for Christmas.
In the first instance, we have to establish whether you have symptoms suggestive of neurological impairment. To achieve that, you are invited to complete our short questionnaire on this website (alternatively, we can discuss your condition over the phone or email). Should you have symptoms, we will then carry out an advanced brain scan and other testing to confirm whether you have brain damage.
If one has permanent brain damage, then it is reasonable to say that one's claim could be considerable. Depending on the severity of one's injuries, it could vary from thousands to millions of pounds. If we believe you have a case then you could be eligible for past and future loss of earnings – including if you retired from the game early due to your brain injuries – plus any healthcare requirements and compensation for pain and suffering.
Your claim could help pay for future healthcare costs should your health deteriorate and you require assistance from a healthcare worker. It is important for you and your family that your future health needs are looked after.
At present, our focus is on the governing bodies of various contact sports since they create and implement the rules which govern the sports.
Initially the screening questionnaire will take around 10 minutes. Assuming you may (or your loved one), sadly, have dementia-type symptoms, we would then ask that you be tested by our neurologist in person. This is likely to take upto a day as you will have an advanced brain scan and other tests.
It is worth emphasizing that our priorities lie with our clients, i.e. the current and retired players and their families who are facing terrible hardships – and getting them financial compensation as soon as possible.
Should you join the action, we propose to structure our relationship with you as a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, also known as a ‘conditional fee agreement’. This is an arrangement between you and us, your lawyers. It means that if your compensation claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay a contingency fee for our services.
We have litigation finance in place to cash flow certain claims; this is something we would be happy to speak to you about.
Happy to discuss this over the phone, but broadly speaking, we only take a fee upon success. We can also cover all other costs involved in the claim. These costs could include court fees, medical reports and other expenses.
In such a scenario, should you then win, we would take a percentage of that win (and this percentage is limited and capped at a certain %).
Litigation is notoriously slow. Realistically speaking, any trial would not be for a number of years. That being said, we will be pushing for an early settlement and hope to achieve that sooner than any trial.
As a sports law firm, we are, clearly, pro sports. But by potentially commencing litigation, we hope to help current and future players by raising awareness to help bring change to make these sports safer.
If you would like to speak directly to one of the acting lawyers in this matter, please contact Richard Boardman at [email protected]
Our team is based in central London and has a wealth of experience in commercial litigation, including personal injury, sports litigation and insurance.
Should we be fortunate to work with you, we will dedicate an experienced solicitor to your case full-time. That solicitor will be assisted by various experts, consultants and counsel.