A lacrosse player at East River High School sued Orange County and another player after she sustained a head injury at a 2015 game.

According to court documents, Kendalle Holley was almost knocked unconscious after she was hit in the head by an opponent’s stick during a match against Timber Creek High School. Video from the game clearly shows Ms. Holley bent over for several seconds, but coaches put her back in the game.

Orange County countered that it has no jurisdiction over high school athletic events; the Florida High School Athletic Association declined comment.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

If a victim totally or partially loses consciousness after a blow to the head, whether that unconsciousness lasts a few seconds or a few months, the person has nearly always sustained a TBI. Every year, about 52,000 people die as a result of these injuries in the United States alone.

Initial symptoms, like headaches, dizziness, and nausea, are eventually replaced by dementia-like symptoms, such as mood swings, personality changes, and memory loss. Dead brain cells do not regenerate, so TBIs are permanent injuries, in both a legal and practical sense. However, following aggressive medical treatment and physical therapy, many victims can manage their symptoms, because neighboring areas of the brain learn to mimic the lost functions.

Sports-related brain injuries, especially chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), get quite a bit of media attention, but these events are somewhat rare. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Motor Vehicle Crashes: Immediately after a vehicle collision, the objects inside a car, like cell phones or laptops, turn into high-speed missiles.
  • Loud Noises: Scientists theorize that explosive blasts create electromagnetic waves that disrupt brain function.
  • Falls: As an example, about 200,000 children per year are rushed to an emergency room after a fall at a playground causes a TBI.

Victims in these cases are normally entitled to compensation for both their economic damages, like property destruction, and noneconomic damages, like loss of consortium (companionship).

Assumption of the Risk

Under this rule, persons who voluntarily engage in dangerous activities are not always allowed to sue for damages.

Assumption of the risk basically comes in two forms. In express assumption of the risk, the participants sign documents that take away their right to sue. There are several possible problem areas. In some courts, if the participants paid a fee to engage in the activity, these agreements are void as against public policy. Other pacts may be considered take-it-or-leave-it contracts of adhesion, because the participants must sign in order to climb the rock, skydive, or whatever. Contracts of adhesion are illegal because there was no bargained-for exchange.

An implied assumption of the risk exists only if the plaintiff knew about the specific risk and, by action, voluntarily assumed the risk. For example, a participant in a pickup basketball game might voluntarily assume the risk of a twisted knee, but the same may not be true of a TBI or an injury sustained in a post-game fight.

Partner with Experienced Attorneys

TBIs affect tens of thousands of families. For a free consultation with an aggressive Orlando personal injury lawyer, contact Reed & Reed. Home and hospital visits are available. From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.