The parents of a Frostburg State University football player filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming that their son died after a second concussion he sustained as a result of what the parents allege were “gladiatorial” high-speed drills, which caused players to suffer repeated blows to the head.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the 22 year old player returned to the field, despite the fact that his forehead was bleeding, for four consecutive practice sessions during August of 2011. Even though he was visibly bleeding, the suit alleges, he was never checked to determine whether his helmet was fitted properly, nor checked for a concussion.
The lawsuit further states that one of the young man’s teammates described the manner in which the practices were run during that period as “out of control.” Additionally, the coaching staff reportedly treated all injuries, whether ankle sprains or potential brain injuries, the same and expected the students to play through them.
It names as defendants the school, the NCAA, the school’s head football coach, the maker of the helmet the player was wearing, and others.
The twice a day practices allegedly involved almost nonstop head-to-head collisions, requiring those playing the same position as the victim to “smash into” other players at full speed during the drill. According to the suit, this allegedly caused dozens of concussive or subconcussive blows. Two other players had already suffered concussions during camp, and therefore, the suit claims, team officials knew or should have known that the victim had suffered a concussion during the prior session.
According to the suit, after his forehead absorbed the repeated blows for several days, the young man told an assistant coach that he didn’t feel right, and had a headache. He then attempted to walk off of the field, and instead collapsed. He lapsed into a six day coma and then died.
The type of lawsuit that this family is filing, a wrongful death lawsuit, claims that the defendant(s) in the lawsuit’s actions wrongfully led to the death of the victim. Maryland law states that, “an action may be maintained against a person whose wrongful act causes the death of another.” A wrongful act is defined as, “an act, neglect, or default including a felonious act which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.” In other words, if the person had survived, and would have been able to sue the defendant for harm, then the threshold is met. A conceptual example would be if an individual is hurt in a car accident and survives, they can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. If the person does not survive, his or her relatives may bring a wrongful death action.
The taking of the life of an individual can be a result of a willful (intentional) or negligent (unintentional) act, as described above, of another person or persons. An action for a willful act which resulted in death is more likely to be the case in incidents where criminal charges are also filed, whereas negligence is more likely to be the theory in accident cases.
If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced Washington D.C. area wrongful death attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. Our attorneys have many years of experience in working with individuals and families who have suffered as a result of the personal injury or wrongful death of a loved one. Our dedicated attorneys have represented families who have suffered from wrongful deaths caused by car accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability and other traumatic events. If you believe that your loved one died because of the wrongful or negligent actions of another, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen by calling 1-800-654-1949 or by visiting our website, in order to schedule your initial free consultation.
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