The 28-year old from Boston College was the Rookie of the Year in 2012 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. In 2021, he will not suit up at all. Citing the risk of multiple concussions, Luke Kuechly said he was stepping away from football.
Kuechly sustained serious head injuries in 2015, 2016, and possibly 2017.
However, he was able to play at a very high level.
Former coach Ron Rivera compared Kuechly to Hall of Fame linebackers Mike Singaltary and Brian Uhlacher.
Kuechely has an estimated $20 million remaining on his contract.
In recent years, several other NFL players have retired at a rather young age, due to concerns about head injuries and other such issues.
29-year-old Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck retired in 2019, as did 29-year-old New England Patriots tight end Ron Gronkowski.
What Causes Head Injuries?
Sports-related concussions grab most of the headlines.
These injuries are a problem not only in professional leagues, but in lower levels as well.
Unlike the NFL, Pop Warner and other youth football leagues do not have unlimited financial resources to deal with player safety issues.
Additionally, young, non-professional players have almost no bargaining power and are often bullied into playing by their coaches.
Statistically, however, sports-related concussions are rather rare. Instead, motor vehicle collisions are by far the leading cause of concussions and concussion-related problems.
These incidents combine all three major types of head injury causes, which are:
- Direct Trauma: Even the most advanced safety restraint system cannot possibly absorb all the force in a high-speed wreck. As a result, victims often hit their heads on steering wheels, dashboards, and other solid objects.
- Indirect Trauma: When cars stop suddenly, small objects inside the car, such as cell phones, continue moving at the same speed. In effect, they become high-speed missiles which are often aimed at a victim’s head.
- Motion: It’s possible to scramble an egg just by shaking it. There is no need to crack the shell. In much the same way, the sudden violent motion of a car crash scrambles the brain without breaking the skull.
- Noise: Many witnesses say that car crashes sound like explosions. These sudden, loud noises create shock waves which disrupt brain functions. Noise-related head injuries often impact pedestrians and other bystanders.
Other common head injury causes include falls and assaults.
Diagnosis and Treatment Issues
Head injuries are very hard to diagnose.
For this reason, the NFL introduced a concussion protocol in 2009. If trainers even suspect that a player sustained a concussion, that player must be removed from the game and evaluated.
Many sports-related concussion victims do not experience signature symptoms, such as unconsciousness and nausea.
Car crash head injuries are also hard to diagnose.
Many doctors assume that shock from the accident, or perhaps early-onset dementia, are responsible for initial symptoms like disorientation and headaches.
Once more advanced symptoms develop, like mood swings, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and sleeplessness develops, head injuries are much harder to treat.
This treatment focuses on injury management.
Concussions and other brain injuries are permanent. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate.
However, an experienced physical therapist knows how to train uninjured parts of the brain to take over the lost functions.
Because of this different approach, progress in head injury physical therapy often occurs in fits and starts.
A sudden breakthrough might come after weeks or months of little or no progress.
When victims seemingly plateau, many insurance companies try to pull the financial plug. It’s important for a New York personal injury attorney to keep the money flowing.
Your Claim for Damages
Car crash-related head injuries often involve the negligence per se rule.
Tortfeasors (negligent actors) might be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate a safety law, and
- That violation substantially causes injury.
Other damage claims, such as drowsy driving claims, involve the ordinary negligence doctrine.
Tortfeasors are liable for damages if they breach a legal duty, and that breach causes injury.
Fall and sports-related head injuries work a bit differently. The landowner or league governing body is usually responsible for injuries if the owner:
- Owed a legal duty to the victim, and
- Knew about the potentially hazardous condition.
Moreover, a New York personal injury attorney must prove that the injury was foreseeable.
Foreseeability is difficult, but certainly not impossible, to prove in assault-related head injury claims.
Head injuries have serious, lifelong consequences for football players and regular people.
For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.