This summer, the National Football League agreed to pay $765 million to thousands of former players who suffered concussion-related injuries during their tenure with the league. The lawsuits alleged that NFL officials knew that repeat concussions could lead to serious brain injuries but did nothing to protect the players.
Now, the Philadelphia personal injury lawyer who filed the first concussion lawsuit against the NFL says that former professional hockey players could be next in line for compensation.
“Medically and scientifically, the similarities are there,” the attorney said. “Legally, there may be distinctions that are tougher and easier.”
One of the tougher legal issues to prove for former National Hockey League players might be that league officials failed to adequately protect the players. Even though hockey is notoriously a rough-and-tumble sport, the NHL has placed an emphasis on concussions and injury awareness since early on.
But the bottom line is that NHL players are suffering many of the same concussion-related injuries as the NFL players. In fact, in 2011 alone, three of the sport’s most well-known enforcers died in incidents that were linked to brain injuries. Rick Rypien and Wade Belak took their own lives while Derek Boogaard died of an accidental overdose of pain medication and alcohol.
Boogaard’s family has filed a wrongful death claim against the NHL, claiming that the player’s death was a result of the multiple concussions he sustained while playing in the league. They also charge that league doctors contributed to Boogaard’s addiction to prescription painkillers.
At this point, it doesn’t appear that other players or families will be joining the lawsuit, as was the case with the first claim against the NFL. However, it is certainly possible that more claims against the NHL could follow in the future.
Source: Charlotte Observer, “Like NFL, former NHL players may sue, but unlikely,” San Gelston, Sept. 30, 2013