Two former students from Neshannock High School in New Castle, Pennsylvania, and the father of a senior athlete from Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), alleging that the organization did little to protect students against sports-related brain injuries, and did little to help them once they did receive such injuries.
The PIAA is fighting back, claiming that according to the 2012 Youth in Sports Safety Act, schools and coaches in Pennsylvania are only responsible for removing athletes from play who have suffered a head injury, and for having those students evaluated by someone who is certified in the care and treatment of concussions.
The lawsuit, however, claims that the schools should have gone much further, requiring concussion baseline tests, and better tracking and reporting of concussions, among other things.
The three students represented in the lawsuit had all suffered severe concussions as a result of their participation in school sports; two of them from football, and one from softball.
A similar lawsuit in Illinois was dismissed this past October.
With greater attention being paid to the issue of athlete concussions, it is likely that such lawsuits will continue to crop up as time goes on and rules and regulations around safety continue to evolve. Whether these class-action lawsuits will remain the best way to pursue compensation and force changes to the athletic system remains to be seen.
If you or a loved one has suffered a head injury from a school-sanctioned team sport, a lawyer can provide concrete advice about your options for moving forward, and whether you might have a case for which you can seek compensation.