Recently, the University of Texas first African American football player, Julius Whittier, took on the role of lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the NCAA over the growing concern of brain injuries in athletes. Whittier, now in his mid 60s, is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, a condition he was diagnosed with in August of 2012.
The number of players involved in the lawsuit has not yet been determined but, according to news sources, could amount to about $50 million in damages. Whittier is seeking minimum restitution of $5 million. His sister, Mildred Whittier, filed the lawsuit on behalf of her brother in the U.S. District Court on October 27, 2014.
Universities, colleges and educational institutions across the U.S., including those in Missouri, have become the training grounds for athletes bound for professional sports over past decades. However, it has become more and more apparent in recent years that athletes who play football are not adequately protected against serious head injuries. Both the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and the NFL (National Football League) are being held liable by many in the professional sports industry for their injuries with claims that they did not do enough to protect players from long-term consequences of serious head injuries although they were aware of the risks for the players.
The lawsuit alleges that the NCAA failed in its duty to inform and protect college football players from the health risks of repeated head impacts, even though they knew of research and evidence that repeated concussions and brain injuries leads to serious brain injuries, Alzheimer’s and dementia at an earlier age than normal. Further, it alleges that they failed to educate players regarding the life altering consequences and potential risks of head injuries and concussions, as is evident in Whittier’s case.
Sports, such as football and soccer, where head impacts are frequent suffer a higher number of concussions or minor head injuries than other non-impact sports. Many lower educational institutions, such as high schools, now require base-line testing before students may participate in sports. Then, in the event of a concussion or TBI, additional testing can determine the severity of the injury and may lead to better treatment and diagnoses.
Brain injuries, no matter the cause, can be traumatic, personality altering and life changing both for the victim and his or her family. A serious brain injury can occur in a car accident, slip and fall accident, or while engaging in football or other sports. Medical treatment can be very difficult to find as many hospitals and medical professionals do not specialize in brain injury treatment. For those who are injured because of another’s negligence, they may be eligible to seek compensation to offset the extremely high cost for medical care, lost income, future care and treatment and other expenses.
At Griggs Injury Law, LLC our Kansas City brain injury attorneys are dedicated to getting our clients into the best medical hands possible and for getting the best results for our clients.