Legislation Aims for Safer Sports Helmets

safer-sports-helmet-imageU.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia is sponsoring legislation to set safety standards for sports equipment, including helmets. Rockefeller has worked for years to push parents, coaches and communities to protect young athletes from traumatic brain injuries.

The bill requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review a forthcoming study from National Academies of Science on youth concussions. Upon review of this study, the commission might then consider new safety standards for sports equipment if manufacturers don’t act on their own.

The Youth Sports Concussion Act is meant to keep parents from being misled by the false claims of manufacturers of sports helmets and other sports equipment. Under this measure, the Federal Trade Commission would be able to regulate rules that prohibit false safety claims.

Manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers can be held liable for injuries arising from the use of unsafe products. There is a precedent for awarding compensatory and punitive damages for these kinds of product liability claims as well as negligence, fraud and concealment. Manufacturers need to warn players who wear their helmets of the risks associated with brain injuries.

This trauma can be to the skull, known as a penetrating head injury, or to the brain itself without any visible damage to the skull in what’s called a closed head injury. These injuries can lead to permanent damage, such as paralysis, seizures, blindness, memory loss, impaired communication skills and many other disabilities.

Concussions are brain injuries. Recognizing concussions in youth sports as a public safety issue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed an initiative to educate coaches, parents and athletes about concussions. The Heads Up initiative suggests avoiding hits to the head, following all rules for safety and all rules of the sport. The CDC also suggests wearing a helmet at all times “to reduce the risk of serious brain injury and skull fracture.” As the CDC points out, however, no helmet is concussion proof.

Many families end up seeking compensation after their children have already been seriously injured. Rockefeller’s bill aims to prevent life-changing injury by making sure everyone has the facts about helmets.

If you need legal assistance because of a serious injury in West Virginia, call the West Virginia personal injury attorneys at Underwood Law Offices toll free at 855-586-4425 or fill out an online questionnaire. The initial consultation is free.

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