As head injuries due to combat sports make headlines across the United States thanks to numerous suits by NFL players, one recent California case brought home the point that it is not just professional football players who suffer from the consequences of head trauma. The California case involved Scott Eveland, a high school football player who suffered a debilitating injury during a football game that will result in a need for lifelong care.
“A serious head injury can result in mental and physical disability for an accident victim,” explained California personal injury lawyer James Ballidis, “which can be prohibitively expensive.”
During a football game for Mission Hills High School in San Marcos in 2007, then 17-year-old Eveland collapsed on the sideline during the first half. Bleeding profusely in the brain, surgery saved his life but left his body crippled. These days, he requires assistance to perform routine tasks, from standing up to lifting his arm to communicate via a computer.
In late 2010, a student trainer provided evidence to suggest that the coach of the team had ignored signs that Eveland was suffering from a head injury in the weeks leading up to the game. The trainer testified on the stand that Eveland had asked to sit out the game immediately beforehand because his headache was so severe his eyes were unable to focus, and that the coach had responded that he was going to put Eveland in if he wanted to.
The coach denies that these statements were ever made; however, the school district decided to settle the case despite the denials. According to the terms of the settlement, Eveland would receive $4.375 million before attorneys’ fees and costs. The helmet manufacturer had already settled previously, bringing the total amount of money obtained through settlements up to almost $5 million.
Although the multi-million dollar settlement may seem like a large amount of compensation, it is significantly less than the $25 million that Eveland’s attorneys had initially indicated was necessary in order to fully compensate him.
The compensation amount in this and other personal injury actions is supposed to make the plaintiff “whole” and to ensure that he or she does not suffer any out-of-pocket financial loss arising from the injury. This refers not only to medical care costs that have been incurred at the time when the settlement is reached, but also to the cost of medical care that will be necessary for the remainder of the victim’s life. Since Eveland is going to need full-time care for the remainder of his life, and since he is a young man, the amount of compensation should be sufficient to ensure he can receive the care he needs for as long as he lives.
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