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Today marks a big step in NFL brain injury lawsuits

Posted on in Catastrophic Injuries

Health advocates, sports fanatics and athletes all might be watching the same news story as of today, with a judge set to consider the 222 lawsuits involving brain injuries among former NFL players.

This isn't the trial, not yet. Instead, the judge first has to decide whether the matter of players' brain injuries belongs in a civil court or whether it must be handled via arbitration due to the league's collective bargaining agreement. The NFL seeks the dismissal of the personal injury lawsuits.

The players behind the negligence allegations against the NFL argue that they played football under the impression that head injuries were not as serious as they have turned out to be. Players who've sustained concussions suffer from depression, dementia and neurological disorders. They argue that the league knew of those risks but purposely hid the true medical facts from the players who deserved to understand what they were risking.

The judge basically needs to decide whether these are cases of workers' compensation or negligence. Lawyers for the plaintiffs will try to prove that the NFL actually tried to mislead players by playing down the health effects of the multiple concussions sustained on the field. That would mean that the head injuries and the illnesses caused by them are more than work-related conditions; they are the result of more serious behavior on the part of the league.

It is likely that this high-profile legal matter will continue for months if not years. We will post an update when there are new developments in the cases. The outcome of these lawsuits would impact not just the plaintiffs and the NFL but potentially the safety requirements for sports leagues across the country. It could definitely change the future of football.

Source: ABC News, "Judge to Decide Fate of NFL Concussion Lawsuits," Katie Moisse, April 9, 2013

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