Last month two former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestlers filed suit against WWE claiming the organization subjected them to serious brain injury by forcing them to continue to wrestle despite the players suffering repeated concussions in the ring. Furthermore, they claim the WWE knew or should have known that the brutality of the sport would cause a variety of medical problems, including traumatic brain injury (TBI).
If this sounds familiar, that’s because the wrestlers join the ranks of other athletes — professional football players, college athletes, and soccer players — who have recently taken a stand against their sport for ignoring concussion safety protocol and subjecting its players to repeated blows to the head.
The wrestlers contend they were forced to continue to wrestle despite losing consciousness before and during wrestling matches. Long term effects like memory loss, depression, anxiety, tremors, convulsions, and impaired ability to reason continue to plague the two plaintiffs.
Herndon brain injury lawyer Doug Landau notes that if the doctors hired by the wrestling shows misled the actors, there may be some liability for medical negligence.
However if there was no specific negligence, but simply cumulative head trauma as a result of participating in these wrestling exhibitions, Landau says it is unclear as to how successful such a lawsuit would be. This is especially true given the defensive notions of assumption of the risk and contributory negligence:
- Assumption of risk is the the voluntary assumption of a known and appreciated risk. In this case against the WWE, the argument for the wrestling organization would be that the wrestlers fully understood, appreciated, and willingly accepted the dangers of wrestling. Under assumption of risk, the WWE would not be held liable for any damages.
- Contributory negligence is the proposition that if an injured person’s injuries were caused in any part by his or her own negligence, he or she is not entitled to collect any damages (money) whatsoever from the party that was the major cause of the injury.
We will continue to follow this case.