Hockey, like football, is a full-contact sport. Not only are injuries inherent to the game but in hockey, players often seek out fights with the opposing team. These fights are sometimes part of the appeal for Ohio hockey fans. Players do wear helmets but head and brain injuries are still a concern, especially if the head injuries occur over and over again.
The NHL is currently facing a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a former hockey player, Derek Boogard. Boogard died in 2011 when he accidentally overdosed on oxycodone and alcohol. His family claims that the NHL was negligent in causing the death and supplied the oxycodone to the player.
The family says that Boogard was actually recruited for his fighting ability because the NHL wanted to enhance ratings by having the large player fight during the games. Over the course of his professional hockey career he was involved in 174 fights, 60 of those being in the NHL. According to the suit, the constant beatings against his body were hard on the player and he started using pain medications to deal with the pain. Team doctors apparently handed out the pain pills.
Boogard's parents donated his brain to Boston University. The school is well known for its research on sport-related brain and head injuries. Researchers discovered something interesting with the player's brain. He had early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is a disease connected with reoccurring brain trauma.
If the NHL is found to have negligently led to the player's death, whether through the fights and eventually brain trauma, or through the pain pills, the family will be able to recover compensation for their loss.
For those facing brain injuries or spinal cord injuries on their on, outside of the professional sport areas, it is still important to consider any negligence at play in the cause of the trauma. These types of injuries produce serious health concern and a lawsuit against a responsible party may be essential if only to cover medical and therapeutic costs.
Source: NPR, "Derek Boogaard's Family Sues NHL Over Player's Death In 2011," Bill Chappell, May 13, 2013