Our Blog

Do helmets protect football players? Jury awards $11.5 million to family in helmet lawsuit

Football is a dangerous game. Everyone who plays the sport knows that there is a risk of injury. But players probably believe they are pretty well protected from a traumatic brain injury by the helmets they wear. What happens when that isn’t true?

Last week, a Colorado jury awarded $11.5 million in a lawsuit against helmet maker Riddell and several high school administrators and coaches over brain injuries a teenager suffered in 2008.b-helmet-nanotech-17-4_3_rx400_c400x400

Rhett Ridolfi suffered a concussion during an August 2008 football practice and was not taken to the hospital after the injury. He was later diagnosed with severe brain damage and paralysis on his left side. After the diagnosis, Ridolfi’s family sued Riddell along with several Trinidad coaches and administrators.

Ridolfi’s medical expenses were more than $3.2 million, and he now walks with a brace, is limited in body function and has impulse and behavioral problems.

The jury found that Riddell was negligent in failing to warn people wearing its helmets about concussion dangers. The jury assessed 27 percent of the blame for the injuries, making the company responsible for paying $3.1 million of the damages.

At the time of the accident, Riddell did not have its new warning label on the helmet, which explicitly states: “Contact in football may result in CONCUSSION-BRAIN INJURY which no helmet can prevent…Do not return to a game or practice until all symptoms are gone.”

Riddell also faces a similar lawsuit in Los Angeles, and a complaint by thousands of former NFL players against the league and the helmet company.

If you are a coach, player or parent, you need to know the signs of a concussion. Any player who suffers a concussion should be kept out of practices or games until they are evaluated by a medical professional. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer some signs to look for.

Concussions are a type of Traumatic Brain Injury. At Elk & Elk, we have nearly five decades of experience helping clients who have suffered TBIs. Brain injuries can change lives forever. Contact the Traumatic Brain Injury lawyers of Elk & Elk today to find out how we can help. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our free, no-obligation online consultation form.