Sports and Brain Injuries

As nearly all sports come with a degree of risk, it is not unusual that from time to time participants will sustain an injury. It is usually the case that these injuries are short lived and will involve simple sprains or strains that resolve within a few weeks. But there are the rare occasions when involvement in sports can result in traumatic brain injury and tragically in the more serious cases, they can have life changing consequences.

 

If you have suffered a head injury whilst participating in sport you may be entitled to compensation if it can be established that a person or body was to blame.

What are the common types of sport?

A greater awareness of the risk of injury in sport, resulting in improvement to health and safety rules and regulations, has resulted in a general decrease in traumatic brain injuries in sport. There are however many sports that come with a higher degree of risk, most noticeably those where there is significant physical contact or where high speeds are involved.

The following sports have the highest proportion of head injuries:

  • Boxing
  • Equestrian
  • Cycling
  • Rugby
  • Motor racing
  • Skiing/Snowboarding
  • Hockey
  • Football

The entitlement to bring a claim is not restricted to those who participate in these sports in a professional capacity. Those who play sports purely for exercise and as a hobby may also be entitled to make a claim if someone else is to blame for the injuries. The injury may have happened at a school or college, or whilst participating in an organised amateur competition or arising out of employment (eg armed forces, work events).

When might blame arise?       

Many injuries arise out of the inherent risks which come with certain activities and are accepted by the injured person as a “pure accident”.  There are, though, occasions when something goes wrong which could have been avoided or someone acts in a manner that creates an unnecessary risk of injury. Examples of where negligence might arise include:

  • Failure to provide necessary safety equipment, or inadequate safety equipment.
  • Failure of sporting equipment generally.
  • Dangerous sporting facilities.
  • The reckless conduct or behaviour of a fellow player/ participant.
  • Failure of the referee/organiser to properly apply the rules and regulations, particularly in relation to safety.
  • Failure of a sporting body or organisation to implement and oversee adequate health and safety measures to protect the participants

The prospects of recovering compensation are greatly improved when the injury arises from an organised event and where the responsible party is likely to hold relevant insurance.

Head injury in sport

There have been many recent high profile examples of where professional sportsmen have suffered severe brain injury whilst participating in sporting activities.

In Formula 1 motor racing Jules Bianchi suffered an ultimately fatal head injury as a result of a high speed crash. In rugby union there was been a lot of recent discussion over player safety and in particular, the risk of head injury. Former Wales international, Jonathan Thomas, has recently retired from the game following his diagnosis of epilepsy, which is thought to have been caused by multiple heavy collisions during the course of his career. Other professional rugby players including Rory Watts-Jones and Shontayne Hape have been forced to retire prematurely following head injury. Olympic rower James Cracknell suffered a serious head injury whilst cycling in 2010 and has gone on to support charities such as Headway and the Brain Injury Association who help sufferers of head injury.

The head injuries that may arise as a result of sporting activities include:

  • Concussion – this usually arises out of a blow to the head that causes the brain to temporarily fail to operate normally. Symptoms may be short lived and can be difficult to detect in the “heat of the moment”. They may come on several hours after the trauma. Headaches may develop as well as feelings of confusion, drowsiness and irritability.  More serious consequences arise when the participant suffers from multiple concussive episodes, which can lead to long term effects including brain damage, memory loss and long term mental disorders.
  • Cerebral contusions, or bruising to the brain – this arises when a blow to the head causes the brain to move back and forth inside the skull. In more severe cases, the brain can swell and bleed. In sport, this type of brain injury is likely when there is a sudden deceleration or impact such as in motor sport.
  • Hematoma – this is a bleed inside the skull that collects between the skull and the surface of the brain. In sport, it usually arises from a direct blow to the head in contact sports such as boxing, football or cycling.           

The NHS identifies the following symptoms as an indication of a mild head injury:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision

Not all head injuries are immediately obvious or appear serious. Initially it may just feel like a bump to the head and a slight headache. Minor head injuries should still be monitored carefully.

How to claim compensation for a sports-related brain injury

Our expert team of brain injury specialists have extensive experience in assisting those who have suffered significant brain injury arising out of sporting activities. Our specialist lawyers will advise you from the outset on how to bring a successful claim but will also work to secure the appropriate rehabilitation and support that the sufferer and their family need. Our approach is to seek the earliest possible interim payment to fund our client’s immediate needs, whether this is to supply therapy, vocational training or accommodation needs. 

Please contact a member of our team on 0333 123 9099. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the child brain injury claim and the injuries sustained to enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk or complete our online form.