In November, a Wall Street Journal article asked, “Is It Time to Retire the Football Helmet?” At the beginning of this month, Representative John Conyers (D-MI), of the House Judiciary Committee, held the second part of a hearing on whether football gear is causing brain injuries.
As football fans in Massachusetts and throughout New England who are familiar with former Patriot Ted Johnson’s story know well, football players stand a great risk of brain injuries. What may be surprising to most fans however is the questions that are being raised about how effective football helmets are in preventing brain injuries.
Some speculate that the helmets might actually do more harm than good. The modern football helmet was designed to prevent catastrophic injuries like fractured skulls. It does a fairly good job at this. But the modern football helmet, and the ubiquitous football face mask, have also made some players feel invincible. By protecting the player’s skull from an open fracture, his face from broken bones and his teeth from getting knocked out, the modern helmet has encouraged players to collide more violently and more often without fear for their own safety. According to some, such as University of North Carolina professor Fred Mueller, this has led to more concussions and other head injuries not fewer.
All of this seems to pose an interesting question: Assuming that the modern football helmet leads players to play more violently, causing more head injuries overall, is the football helmet a defective product? Could a football player who suffers brain damage from repetitive concussions caused by a style of play that is encouraged and enabled by the modern helmet sue the helmet manufacturer and win under Massachusetts law?
These are interesting questions. And in our next post we’ll take a closer look at Massachusetts product liability law to try and come up with some answers.
If you know someone who has suffered a head or brain injury as a result of a defective product, such as a football helmet, and who requires the services of a Boston personal injury attorney, call The Law Office of Alan H. Crede to arrange a free in-person consultation.