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Sports Injuries and Concussions: What to Know

Recreational and organized sports can be a wonderful source of fun, exercise, and social engagement for both kids and adults. At the same time, participation in recreational sports carries certain risks. A wide range of injuries—including concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)—can occur. In this blog post, our Spokane brain injury attorney explains the key things to know about recreational sports, the concussion risk, and your legal rights. 

Millions of Athletes Suffer Concussions Each Year

Brain injuries remain a very serious safety concern in recreational sports, especially in contact sports such as football and hockey as well as in semi-contact sports, including basketball, soccer, field hockey, and competitive cheerleading. According to data provided by the National Safety Council (NSC), between 1.6 million and 3.8 million people sustain concussions while playing sports in the United States annually. As concussions are widely believed to be systematically underreported, the precise figure is not known. 

All Head Injuries Require Immediate Medical Attention

A suspected concussion always requires professional medical attention. TBIs are challenging to diagnose. Brain injuries often happen with a delayed onset. Further, they can manifest themselves in many different ways depending on the nature and severity of the blow. It is crucial that any person who sustained a serious head injury while playing recreational sports in Washington receives the proper care. Common symptoms that suggest a possible concussion include: 

  • Pressure in the head;
  • Headaches; 
  • Light-headedness;
  • Nausea; 
  • Vomiting;
  • Dilation of the pupils; 
  • Short-term memory loss; and
  • Loss of consciousness. 

Long-Term Brain Damage is a Serious Concern 

Unfortunately, long-term brain damage is a serious concern with concussions—especially if a person has suffered repeated concussions and/or they have sustained many subconcussive blows to the head. Specifically, there are concerns about sports, head injuries, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Any athlete—especially a youth athlete—needs time to recover from a concussion. 

Assumption of Risk, Recreational Sports, and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) 

All sports carry risks. That does not mean that it is impossible to bring a personal injury claim for a sports-related concussion—but there are some unique challenges. A claimant will need to deal with our state’s assumption of risk legal principle. As described in the Washington Civil Jury instructions (WPI 110.10 Assumption of Risk—Contributory Negligence), assumption of risk occurs when a person voluntarily chooses to engage in an activity that comes with an inherent and known risk. Assumption of risk is a relevant factor when apportioning liability. 

If a concussion occurs because of an inherent risk associated with the sport, the injured athlete may not have a viable legal claim. For example, an adult in a recreational hockey league who suffers a concussion during an accidental, but routine collision likely does not have a claim. However, athletes do not assume all risks when playing sports. If a brain injury is sustained due to the negligence of another party, they may have a valid legal claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer can review your case and help you understand your legal options. 

Get Help From a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer in Spokane, Washington

At‌ Albrecht‌ ‌Law‌ ‌PLLC, our Spokane brain injury attorney is a skilled and experienced advocate for victims and their families. If you or your child sustained a serious concussion while playing recreational sports, we are prepared to help you navigate the legal claims process. Contact us today to set up a free, no obligation review and assessment of your case. Our law firm represents injured victims in Spokane County and throughout Eastern Washington. 

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