Recent Concussion Judgements and Settlements | Head Health Network
Recent Concussion Judgements and Settlements

The settlements of many concussion lawsuits are undisclosed. Below is a sampling of judgments and settlements that have been made public as well as some high-profile cases whose settlements are either pending or undisclosed.

Commentary on Selected Safety, Risk and Liability Topics

Many recent concussion related lawsuits have been the result of incidents in which athletes have been injured after returning to play before it was safe for them to do so. As the courts seek to determine fault in these cases, judgements have routinely centered around the negligence of coaches and athletic officials. Some examples include ignoring the advice of medical professionals, failure to follow established procedures and failure to identify concussive symptoms. Additionally, some judgements and settlements have been based on a school’s improper documentation and failure to prove that their policies and procedures were followed. If an organization cannot prove their compliance with a standard of care, then it can be argued that the school did not provide the standard of care.  For this reason, it is critical that schools maintain proper documentation of all healthcare incidents – simply establishing a policy for care is not adequate, schools must be able to prove their procedures are being followed.

While concussive injuries in contact sports such as football and lacrosse tend to receive the most media attention, risks for injury and litigation are not limited to traditional ‘contact sports.’ Schools must ensure that adequate oversight and proper standards of care are provided during all activities.  If, for example, schools provide special care and attention for certain activities, they run the risk of violating federal protections guaranteed by Title IX.

In a study by United Educators, the single largest cause for claims in concussion lawsuits was coach negligence, which was responsible for more than 45% of claims

Judgement/Settlement Amount Location Cause
$4.4 Million Mission Hills, CA Coaches did not recognize concussion symptoms and allowed athlete to continue playing
$1.0 Million Des Moines, IA School nurse did not communicate athlete’s concussion status with coaches and athlete continued to play
$2.0 Million Hillsborough, FL Insufficient emergency response plan /procedures in place for concussed athletes
$0.3 Million Three Forks, MT Athlete was allowed to return to play without completing proper return to play protocol
$0.25 Million US Soccer – Class Action Failure to provide adequate protocols for minimizing concussion risks
Undisclosed Settlement Dixon v. Pop Warner Improper and unsafe training techniques taught to players
Undisclosed Settlement Pyke v. Pop Warner Failure to provide a safe playing environment and adequate oversight in youth football
Pending New Trier, IL Cheerleader allowed to return to participation without following proper return to play protocol
$20.0 Million – Pending Belt Valley, MT Athlete allowed to return to play before doctor’s approval