Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Lawsuit

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 What Is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive condition resulting from serious head injury, repeated head injuries, or concussions. It is commonly associated with athletes who have sustained sports injuries to their heads, such as boxers, football players, hockey players, and martial artists. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy also appears to be related to repeated injuries sustained in military combat, especially exposure to explosions.

People who develop CTE share a similar history of having suffered a number of head impacts over a period of years. People who play professional sports are especially vulnerable to the syndrome. Most people who participate in sports in high school do not develop CTE. The condition is most often confirmed in people who are 42 to 43 years of age.

A doctor first described CTE in 1928 in a group of boxers. The doctor referred to it as “punch drunk syndrome.” After that first identification, additional researchers reported seeing similar findings in brain trauma victims. But there were fewer than 50 known cases. It was not until 2005 that a pathologist published the first findings of symptoms of CTE in a football player. Now there is a Concussion Legacy Foundation that studies the syndrome in cooperation with Boston University.

There are various stages of CTE because it involves the death of nerve cells in the brain, referred to as “degeneration.” Each stage of CTE involves progressively more serious symptoms. Common symptoms of CTE may include the following:

  • Speech Issues: A pattern of slower speech;
  • Memory Loss;
  • Disorientation;
  • Dizziness and Headaches;
  • Dementia;
  • Problems with Thinking and Emotions. Victims may exhibit such issues as problems with impulse control, aggression, mood swings, depression, paranoia, and anxiety.

It is important to note that the medical profession still does not understand CTE. It does not appear to result from just one head injury. Rather it results from repeated injury to the head. Sustaining a second injury before a first injury has fully healed may be a factor that contributes to CTE. Symptoms may not appear for years and even decades after the injuries are sustained.

Doctors cannot even diagnose the disease definitively during the lifetime of a person unless they may have high-risk exposures. Currently, the only way to diagnose CTE is through a brain autopsy after death.

Who Can Be Held Liable for CTE Injuries?

While it generally takes years for the symptoms of CTE to appear, it is sometimes possible to trace the trauma that has caused it to a specific event and the person or entity who was involved. Injury laws may vary by state, but there are various legal theories that can cover a CTE claim. Some common grounds for liability for CTE can include the following:

  • Negligence: for instance, if the sponsors of sporting events, sports coaches, or instructors fail to provide proper safety equipment for contact sports;
  • Medical Malpractice: It is possible that medical malpractice could contribute to the development of CTE. For example, a doctor might fail to treat a person who has suffered a brain injury in such a way as to prevent exposure to another injury before the first has healed;
  • Battery: Battery is injurious touching of one person by another. Intentional conduct, such as battery, could be the basis for a civil lawsuit for damages. Or it might be a criminal offense, especially in aggravated battery cases involving the use of a weapon or the infliction of serious bodily harm;
  • Defective Products: Certain product defects may result in brain injury, such as a car with a defective airbag.

Liability for CTE will depend on the facts of each case, as is true in any lawsuit for damages. One of the major problems with any lawsuit involving CTE is the fact that diagnosing the disease is challenging, even for expert medical professionals.

An additional challenge would be making a direct connection between someone’s negligent acts, intentional tort, or product defect and the CTE injury that the person suffered. Injury laws provide that In order to win a civil lawsuit for negligence, intentional tort, or strict product liability, the victim must prove that someone’s act or failure to act is the direct cause of the victim’s injury. This proof of a direct connection between someone’s negligence or the defect in a product and a person’s injury is essential for success in a personal injury lawsuit.

However, the symptoms of CTE may not appear until years after an injury. In fact, again, the disease cannot even be definitively diagnosed until after a person passes away. Or, they might not appear until after a second or subsequent injury. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to establish a direct link between a specific episode and the development of CTE.

Are There Any Legal Remedies for CTE?

In most cases, a chronic traumatic encephalopathy lawsuit may result in a legal remedy for the affected party. Usually, this consists of a damages award to compensate for costs such as the following:

  • Health Care: The cost of all necessary medical treatment that a person requires to restore them to good health. This would include charges for doctors’ visits, other medical and hospital bills, prescription medications, and the like;
  • Lost Income: A person may lose income from employment because of their injury. They might lose income because they are unable to work due to their injuries or because they must miss work to get treated. In either case, the lost income can be compensated;
  • Loss of Earning Capacity: A person may suffer a loss of ability to work, either in whole or in part, because of their injury. The person can be compensated for this;
  • Rehabilitation: A person may require physical rehabilitation or rehabilitation for a new type of employment;
  • Future Losses: A person may not have healed completely by the time their case is settled or goes to trial. An expert can give a reliable estimate of future losses, and the victim can be compensated for expected future losses;
  • Pain and Suffering: A person can also recover compensation for the non-economic loss they have experienced – the pain and suffering that accompanied their physical injuries.

In cases involving intentional conduct, e.g., a battery case, the perpetrator could face a civil lawsuit for damages and criminal charges and consequences as well. If the perpetrator is convicted, a judge might order restitution in addition to the payment of a fine and a term of imprisonment.

It is also possible for a veteran to claim benefits on the grounds that they have service-related CTE. In order to succeed with such a claim, the veteran would have to show that they suffered repeated blows to their head either through their service or perhaps because they were a player on a military football or boxing team.

If the veteran can show that they have a current disability and it is connected to experiencing traumatic brain injury during their service, they may win an award of veterans benefits.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With My CTE Claim?

If you have suffered CTE and believe that someone’s negligence or a defective product might be the cause, you want to consult with a personal injury lawyer. can connect you to an experienced lawyer who can review the facts of your case.

Your lawyer will be able to enlist the help of any necessary medical experts or others whose opinions would be needed to support your case. Your lawyer can protect your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.


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