Ten former NHL hockey players recently filed class-action lawsuit against the National Hockey League (NHL) claiming that the league has not done enough to protect its players from concussions and head injuries. The lawsuit seeks damages for the players as well as court certified medical attention (sponsored by the NHL) to monitor the players injuries that resulted from their concussions. This event comes just 3 months after the NFL came to a $765 million settlement which involved hundreds of players and concussions. The fact that these two lawsuits occurred so closely together makes me question whether those players of the NHL who filed, had planned on doing so prior to the NFL lawsuit?
It’s interesting that there was only 10 NHL players to come forward for the lawsuit as opposed to the NFL where hundreds were involved. Does that mean that more players from the NHL will come forward in the near future? I also think that the fact that two of the major North American professional sport leagues having lawsuits regarding concussions also opens the door for the other professional sport leagues and not just those throughout North America. If the NHL players prove successful, I believe that it will result in several lawsuits in the near future regarding concussions and injuries related to them. One major aspect that worries me about these lawsuits is what if other athletes attempt to take advantage of this situation? Concussions are a very conspicuous injury to treat and has varying side effects for example only a player who was injured by a concussion would know if he/she had constant headaches after the concussion for a long period of time.
These lawsuits also raise the question of how this will affect professional sport leagues in the future? Leagues will have to take more measures to protect themselves from lawsuits that could reach extremely high amounts (as seen in the NFL settlement). Some of those measures, whether they are waivers/consent forms or even more education for players prior to entering the leagues, may affect the images of the leagues or possibly deter athletes from playing there. Ultimately, these lawsuits have opened a whole can of worms for the NHL and other leagues as they will have to act quickly to prevent anything like this from happening in the future.