Even though he initially appeared to be recovering, a 37-year-old man died after he took a line drive to the head while pitching in a recreational softball game.

The 37-year-old man passed away on Christmas Day 2017, about two weeks after the game. Though he was unconscious at the scene and he had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital, doctors were initially confident that the man would recover, even though he had sustained a separate head injury earlier that day. But these hopes quickly faded as the victim lapsed into a coma. Observers pointed out that although the dimensions of a softball field haven’t changed at all and the players do not wear additional safety equipment, the speed and power of the game is much more intense than it was a few years ago, creating the potential for serious injury. The deceased victim had gotten married about a month before the accident.

One teammate said many other players were struggling “because it’s … surreal this kid is not going to be around anymore from playing a game he loved.”

Brain Injuries in Florida

The head injury case described above may seem unusual, but it’s actually quite normal for brain injury victims to apparently recover and even show little or no signs of injury, only to develop serious problems either a short time later or many years later. The brain has many unique abilities, and unfortunately for brain injury victims, these gifts include the ability to disguise its own injuries. That’s one reason many concussed athletes insist that they “feel fine” and ask to go back into the game despite their injury.

Brain injuries are also hard to diagnose because not all victims display the same symptoms. Sometimes, the victim is completely unconscious for quite some time, and other times, the victim is conscious yet in a dazed state. Doctors also often fail to connect the symptoms with the injury. For example, some doctors say the victim is confused because of shock from the car accident or other incident.

Overall, brain injuries seriously injure over eight million people a year. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Motor vehicle crashes,
  • Falls,
  • Assaults, and
  • Sports injuries.

All these injuries are permanent, although physical therapy usually reduces the symptoms. Therefore, compensation in brain injury cases is usually substantial. The damages available include money for both economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Establishing Liability in Florida Brain Injury Cases

Negligence is a lack of ordinary care, and in sports brain injury cases, either the individual tortfeasor (negligent actor) or the governing body may demonstrate such a lack of care.

Individual liability usually attaches if the tortfeasor injured the victim well outside the scope of the contest. Typically, that involves a parking lot scuffle or some other event that occurs outside the lines. In-game individual negligence occurs as well, perhaps if the tortfeasor uses a greatly disproportionate amount of force during a tackle.

Organizations have a legal duty to provide a safe environment for all participants and spectators. If the body fails to provide such protection, perhaps by not furnishing the proper kind of safety equipment, the organization may be liable for damages. If the organization had evidence of a danger and failed to take action, additional punitive damages may be available as well.

What is the Eggshell Skull Rule in Florida?

This doctrine applies in negligence cases if the victim has a pre-existing medical condition or a predisposition to a certain kind of injury. Essentially, the tortfeasors take victims as they find them. In the above story, the victim might have recovered were it not for the prior head injury. Even though the tortfeasor had nothing to do with that injury, the tortfeasor should not be allowed to profit from this situation, which is why the eggshell skull rule exists.

Contact Experienced Attorneys

A brain injury means a lifetime of suffering. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).