Football is one of America’s greatest past times and is often the focus of news coverage based on the games and their players. It has lately been in the spotlight for a more contentious issue: the impacts of injuries on football players throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the country.

The focus on football injuries is important and may have tremendous impacts on workers’ compensation law.

Recent news has specifically examined the methods by which to evaluate football injuries. Of primary concern is how to evaluate brain injuries and degenerative brain disease. This concern has become a focus for the National Football League as well as medical researchers after several former NFL players were diagnosed after death with such injuries and diseases.

Currently, the only apparent method by which to evaluate and diagnose brain injuries is after the death of the individual. Researchers are attempting to develop changes for head injury diagnosis. They are finding ways to identify such conditions in living people. The suggested wave of new testing is subject to much critique.

If the live testing becomes possible, it will be forever change the landscape of football injuries, particularly in regards to football players’ claims for workers’ compensation.

Under Pennsylvania law, to recover under their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance, employees must be able to demonstrate a work-related injury. At the moment, it can be difficult for football players to meet this burden for particular brain injuries where live testing is unavailable.

The new testing may change everything both medically and legally for football players. In the meantime, creatively approaching legal claims in order to recover for workplace injuries may be the only way football players will be able to recover for some of their injuries.

Source: The New York Times, “New Tests for Brain Trauma Create Hope, and Skepticism,” Ken Belson, Dec. 25, 2013