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Student Concussion Injury Lawsuit Against School Settled for $7.1M

A school district in California has agreed to pay $7.1 million to a former high school football player who sued for personal injuries after he reportedly suffered permanent brain damage stemming from the failure of his coach to recognize his concussion after a game.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the student was 14 and a freshman on the school’s football team when he was diagnosed with a concussion following a game in the fall of 2013. Coaches reportedly had been trained specifically to recognize the symptoms of head injuries, but despite this did not seek medical help for the student when he displayed several of those symptoms. Prior to the incident, plaintiff was a bright student with a 3.9 GPA and a promising future. He was forced to take a year off school and returned to his studies at a high school that has a program specifically for students suffering from brain injuries.

For a time after the incident, he was comatose. There was uncertainty about whether he’d walk or talk again. His lawyers said the fact that he is now in a position to be able to graduate is “miraculous.” 

The lawsuit against the school indicated that the teen played in the game when a teammate approached the coaches to express concern plaintiff wasn’t playing well. The coach “shushed” him. The teen reportedly appeared sick and vomited. Then he approached the coach and told him he had a headache. The coach asked him several questions, which he answered correctly and coherently, the coach would later testify. Although the not appearing to be seriously injured, the judge overseeing the civil case determined there was a question of fact about whether the coach should have sought medical help for the teen after he vomited and complained of a headache. Rather than call 911, the coach called the boy’s mother. When the boy’s father arrived, he found his son on the ground, slumped over, his head between his legs and covered in vomit. His father rushed him to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a concussion and placed in a medically-induced coma – the first of many surgeries the teen underwent.

His ongoing issues with sight may prevent him from ever being unable to drive.

Although there is a tendency to think of concussions as a minor injury, the reality is they are a form of traumatic brain injury and they can have a profound and lasting effect.

One study published in 2013 by the Institute of Medicine (funded by the NFL) concluded that high school football players were twice as likely to sustain concussions as college players, suffering concussions at a rate of 11.2 for every 10,000 games and practices. Researchers cautioned these were likely conservative numbers because a significant portion of head injuries go unreported.

Although concussion symptoms in most cases go away within a couple of weeks, 10 to 20 percent of victims suffer symptoms that persist for weeks, months or years.

An experienced personal injury lawyer in West Palm Beach understands that cases against school districts can be challenging because they are considered a government entity, entitled to several layers of legal protection. As this case proves, however, they can sometimes still be worth pursuing.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Student awarded $7 million in lawsuit for football brain injury, April 6, 2018, By Gary Warth, San Diego Union Tribune

More Blog Entries:

Overcoming Sovereign Immunity: Holding Government, Workers Accountable in Florida Injury Lawsuits, Feb. 18, 2018, West Palm Beach School Injury Attorney Blog

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