Ex-NFL player’s suicide linked to concussions in career

In the past we have discussed personal injury lawsuits related to the NFL and brain injuries. Class action lawsuits have been filed in Philadelphia against the NFL, and now a recent loss of a former football player adds more fuel to the legal fire and the emotions behind it.

Former Atlanta Falcons player Ray Easterling was a lead plaintiff in various personal injury lawsuits related to brain injuries among athletes, but he no longer is alive to speak about his hardship. Sources report that Easterling committed suicide last week.

The ex-player’s tragic death, however, doesn’t mean that his health situation that inspired him to sue the league won’t play a part in the continuing civil suits. Sadly, Easterling’s case will now become a wrongful death case against the league. There are already wrongful death cases in progress that blame the league for failing to inform players about and protect them from concussions that contributed to untimely death.

The matter of brain injuries from sports is a highly publicized one. Lawsuits involving professional athletes are not only looking to hold the league accountable for its alleged negligence but to create better safety standards for players in the future.

Fear of the reported long-term effects of sustaining multiple concussions has also crept into the conversations and regulations regarding youth sports. Kids’ brains are not fully developed, making them vulnerable to damage even if a head injury seems minor. If we send the message that safety is more important than athletic glory starting at the youth level, then maybe fewer risks will be taken and safety standards will be improved at the professional level down the road.

Source: Business Insurance, “Lead plaintiff in NFL concussion lawsuits dies in apparent suicide,” Sheena Harrison, April 26, 2012

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