The State Appeals Court in Cleveland has officially approved the traumatic brain injury claim brought forth by Yvette Schmitz, wife of Steve Schmitz. The lawsuit was originally filed in October 2014 and later dismissed in September 2015 by a Cuyahoga County judge.
Schmitz was a football player for Notre Dame University during the period of 1974 to 1977. After battling numerous mental issues, he was diagnosed with brain damage in 2012. According to the lawsuit, Steve suffered numerous concussions during his time on the field which ultimately led to the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other cognitive impairments.
In the lawsuit, it’s alleged that the NCAA and Notre Dame University failed to warn players of the serious risks involved in concussions. It wasn’t until 2010 when the NCAA acknowledged the harm a concussion can do and implemented procedures for schools and teams to follow.
Steve Schmitz’s traumatic brain injury eventually led to his death in February 2015.
Brain Damage & Sports: Lawsuits on the Rise
The NCAA, NFL, and other sports associations are certainly no strangers to brain damage lawsuits. These associations have continued to deny any links between sports and brain damage – and understandably so. It’s a billion-dollar industry and associating brain injuries with sports would be a mark of disgrace that is sure to affect their bottom line.
But the evidence is not on their side. In a recent study by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University, brain damage was detected in tissue samples of 131 out of 165 former football players.
And the list of players diagnosed with brain damage continues to grow.
Navigating Latent Brain Injuries & the Statute of Limitations
One factor that should be considered if you file an injury lawsuit is how long it takes for a brain injury to develop. It’s not uncommon for injured parties to not experience any effects of the damage until 20 to 30 years after the incident. Given that a brain injury can significantly shorten your lifespan and result in an enormous financial burden, it’s important that you receive adequate compensation.
But if the full extent of your brain injury hasn’t developed yet, how do you demand compensation within your state’s statute of limitations?
Here in Cincinnati, injured parties have a maximum of two years to file a lawsuit. Most states only have a 1 or 2-year statute of limitations for filing a brain injury claim. This is not always enough time to determine if permanent brain damage has been sustained.
Fortunately, Steve Schmitz’s case shows there is a way around these deadlines. The “discovery rule” allows for an exemption or delayed period in the statute of limitations. The rule was developed after issues like asbestos exposure and the need for exceptions to certain issues in the statute of limitations.
The discovery rule essentially means that the deadline to file a lawsuit can be extended based on the date the injury was first discovered.
In the case of Schmitz, his injury was sustained during his time on the field in the 1970s but not officially diagnosed until 2012. Under the discovery rule, a lawsuit was filed in 2014.
What to Do If You’ve Sustained a Head Injury
If you’ve received a blow to the head, seek immediate medical attention. Don’t wait it out. While a brain injury can be difficult to diagnose, it helps to have medical records on file should you decide to pursue a personal injury claim. Physicians can evaluate your condition with an MRI & CT scan.
And remember – brain damage can remain latent for many years. It’s important to take the necessary actions to protect your wellbeing and financial security now should an issue with your brain arise in the future.
Once you have received adequate medical attention, talk with your injury lawyer about your options on seeking compensation in a claim or lawsuit.