On Tuesday, June 12, former running back Reggie Bush was awarded $12.5 million for a knee injury he suffered during a game on November 1, 2015. The MCL injury turned out to be a career ending injury for Bush, although he did sign a contract with the Buffalo Bills in 2016. Bush retired in 2017. According to a personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas, this could lead more players to file suit against franchises and leagues.
Bush was running a punt return for the San Francisco 49ers during a game against the St. Louis Rams. After running out of bounds, he slipped on a concrete surface that runs near the wall separating the field and stands after the play, falling to the ground holding his knee. He was later diagnosed with a torn MCL, causing him to miss the rest of the season. The concrete ring in the Edward Jones Dome, now known as the Dome at America’s Center, was described in the lawsuit as the “concrete ring of death” due to the number of cleat-wearing players who had been injured when plays carried them to the surface. Just one week prior to Bush’s injury, Josh McCown, quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, injured his shoulder when he slid across the concrete ring. Although Bush signed with the Buffalo Bills the following season, the injury led to his retirement in 2017.
A Las Vegas injury law firm reports that Bush filed a lawsuit against the Rams as well as public agencies that own and operate the dome. However, a judge dismissed the public agencies when it was determined that the team itself had control of game-day operations in the stadium. Two weeks after Bush’s injury, rubber padding covered the concrete. The Rams argued that they could not have foreseen that Bush would be injured on the concrete and that over 20 seasons, only McCown and Bush suffered injuries because of the concrete surface. They also argued that Bush had pre-existing issues that led to the knee injury.
The jury found the Rams to be 100 percent liable for Bush’s injury which he claims undermined his chances to receive a lucrative contract and damaged his remaining playing career. Bush was awarded $4.95 million in compensatory damages and $7.5 million in punitive damages. Missouri law requires that half of a punitive damages award be placed in the state’s tort victim’s compensation fund, which is used to pay when a negligent defendant is unable to pay the plaintiff. This means that at least $3.75 million of the Bush award will be placed in that fund. The Rams have asked for a new trial and are planning to appeal the verdict.
According to a personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas, it is rare for professional athletes to sue after a serious injury during play, but this may be changing. Injury claims are usually resolved through the collective bargaining grievance procedures. In addition, teams usually cover all health expenses after an injury, plus players must assume the risk of injury.
Yet, at least one other professional player has sued after an injury. Dustin Fowler, an outfielder for the Chicago White Sox, sued when he suffered a nasty patella tendon rupture after hitting a wall in Guaranteed Rate Field. That lawsuit is still winding through the courts, but is indicative of how the future may be for sports franchises. In both cases, the players were injured when they encountered permanent structures in the stadium that may have made the injury worse. Multiple former players also successfully sued when research determined they may have suffered permanent injury due to inadequate concussion protocol in the NFL. This could lead to more players choosing to file suit against leagues, franchises and other entities in order to receive compensation for their injuries.
If you have suffered an injury as an athlete, contact our Las Vegas law firm by calling 702-960-4050 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can arrange for a free, no obligation consultation 24 hours day 7 days a week.