Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

FIFA sued for soccer players' concussions

Pittsburgh Steelers fans may be aware that football players frequently suffer injuries during play, but what they may not know is that soccer players also face a risk of suffering a concussion on the field. In fact, a class-action lawsuit was recently filed in federal court against FIFA and U.S.-based soccer associations alleging that the groups failed to implement an effective policy to detect and handle concussions.

According to the plaintiffs, the guidelines set forth by FIFA for detecting a brain injury essentially require players to self-diagnose. Referees are also given too much power in determining whether a player has suffered a concussion, according to the plaintiffs. The soccer players, rather than seeking monetary damages, are requesting that their soccer organizations be required to establish a medical monitoring program. The players also want to have their attorneys' fees and costs paid for by the defendant organizations.

The soccer players have noted that the medical community called for a change in guidelines over a decade ago, but FIFA has failed to enact these changes despite having updated the guidelines three times since the first international conference on concussions. Two other named defendants, U.S. Youth Soccer and American Youth Soccer, are also accused of not having updated their concussion policy guidelines to reflect an acceptable standard of care. The class action seeks to impose restrictions on the ability of minors under 17 years of age to hit the ball with their heads during game play. The suggested guidelines would also allow for additional substitutions than what is normally permitted if a player needs a medical evaluation.

Ideally, assistance from a medical professional should minimize the risk of a misdiagnosis of a brain injury. However, if a person is misdiagnosed or given the wrong medical treatment even after being seen by a doctor, that person may want to consult an attorney about whether they may be able to recover any damages for medical malpractice.

Source: Forbes, "Class Action Concussion Lawsuit Filed Against FIFA And U.S. Soccer Associations", Darren Heitner, August 27, 2014

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