A middle school football player has filed suit against Horry County Schools following severe brain injuries he received during a football game. The juvenile, L.W., was hit by several players during the North Myrtle Beach Middle School football game. He showed obvious signs of head trauma after the hit and told his coach and teammates that he was having trouble, but they put him back in the game anyway… where he received more hits to the head.

The suit claims that L.W. “voiced to his teammates and to coaching staff that he was having difficulty with his balance/equilibrium following this hit,” as well as exhibiting “outward signs of confusion, loss of balance, and visual impairment.” Despite “open and obvious signs of head trauma,” L.W. was put back in the game, where he received more hits “thereby seriously exacerbating his head trauma,” according to the suit. L.W. could also be seen “staggering down the sidelines during the third quarter and attempting to continue plays after the whistle, but was at no point removed from the game,” the suit claims. That same day after the game ended, the suit stated, L.W. was “diagnosed with a serious brain injury.”

L.W. suffered short-term and long-term memory loss which prevented him from attending classes after the injuries.

Is the Game of Football Killing the Players?

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year examined the brains of deceased former football players and found that the incidence of traumatic brain injury increases the longer the person continues to play the game. 99% of the NFL players examined – 110 out of 111 – had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder that is caused by blows to the head. The study also found that 3 out of 14 (21%) of high school players’ brains that were examined had CTE and 48 out of 53 (91%) of college football players’ brains had CTE. 85% of the football players with CTE had signs of dementia, 89% had behavioral problems, and 95% had cognitive issues with memory and attention span. Why do we still allow our children to play the game when we know that there is a high probability it will destroy their life even if it doesn’t kill them? Is our fascination with football like the ancient Romans’ fascination with combat in the arena? But wait, the ancient Romans didn’t send their children to fight in the arena, did they?

Can I Sue the School if My Child is Injured Playing Football?

That depends – if your child’s injury was a result of the school’s or school employee’s negligence, they may be responsible for damages. It seems reasonable, in light of what we now know about football and TBI, to say that it is negligent for schools to allow children to play football at all – at least until new rules are adopted to prevent head injuries. That is probably not how the courts will see it, though. In the Horry County case, the lawsuit alleges that the school district was reckless and grossly negligent for:

  • failing to enforce school policies and procedures regarding concussion and head trauma protocols;
  • failing to recognize that L.W. had a head injury;
  • failing to remove him from the game; and
  • failing to give him necessary treatment after his head injury.

At a minimum, our schools have a duty to ensure the safety of our children and to follow their own policies and procedures. If L.W. told coaches and teammates that he was struggling and if he was seen “staggering down the sidelines during the third quarter and attempting to continue plays after the whistle,” but his coaches put him back into the game anyway, the school district may have a problem…

Horry County and Myrtle Beach Personal Injury Lawyers

The personal injury attorneys at Coastal Law, LLC, want to help if you or your family has been injured. There are times when a person, company, or even a school fails to follow the “rules of the road” that are there to protect our children. There are also times when the “rules of the road” need to be changed to reflect our changed understanding of how injuries occur. Call Coastal Law, LLC, now at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free consultation about your case.

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