Former professional football players from around the country have filed a "master complaint" against the National Football League. The master complaint consolidates about 80 individual cases alleging that the NFL downplayed the risk of serious brain injuries that its players were exposed to.
Traumatic brain injuries are among the most serious types of trauma that an individual can experience. There are many causes of brain injury, including traffic accidents, falls and near-drowning. The types of injuries professional football players suffer are similar to those that car accident victims face and can result in a variety of serious long-term medical problems.
Many of the former football players suing the NFL allege that they suffered from a variety of ailments, including dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions as a result of their participation in professional football. The players allege that the NFL was aware of the risk of brain injury, but failed to adequately protect them.
"The NFL, like the sport of boxing, was aware of the health risks associated with repetitive blows producing subconcussive and concussive results and the fact that some members of the NFL player population were at significant risk of developing long-term brain damage and cognitive decline as a result," the complaint states. The complaint goes on to allege that the NFL ignored the risk of brain injuries and failed to warn players or impose sufficient safety rules on teams.
The football players are bringing a unique type of brain injury personal injury action. Most brain injury cases involve unexpected accidents caused by the negligence of another person or entity, whereas the NFL cases arise out of voluntary participation in a violent sport. The NFL will likely argue that it had no duty to warn the players of a danger that they were already aware of.
The NFL released a statement denying the allegations in the complaint and asserted its commitment to player safety.