The National Football League has come under fire in recent years, and paid a multi-million-dollar settlement to former players who filed a class action suit, for failing to protect its players from concussions and the multitude of long-term physical, mental and emotional damage they can cause.

Despite the increased focus on practices and equipment to improve player safety, just last season, several players who were not taken out of the game after suffering head injuries were later diagnosed with concussions. In one case, a player who was knocked to the ground and had difficulty getting up was looked at by a trainer, but was not removed from the game. As the result of criticism in the wake of these latest incidents, the NFL committed earlier this year to reviewing its protocol.

League and Players Association Increase Penalties for Violations

Late last month, the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced new rules aimed at penalizing teams that don't remove players from the field after they've suffered a concussion. Teams found guilty of breaking the rules could potentially have to pay $150,000 for first violations and at least $100,000 for each further violations. They may also have to forfeit at least one draft pick. Further, representatives chosen by the NFL and the players' union will monitor games to help ensure that players who suffer blows to the head are tested for concussions.

Beyond these protocols, the league says it is working to address issues such as equipment and playing fields. The NFL has donated millions to companies that are working to develop safer equipment. Players have reported that the synthetic material that is used on many football fields now is too hard, as opposed to grass. The league and the union say they are going to look into this.

Concussions Affect Athletes of All Ages in Numerous Sports

While much of the media attention around sports-related concussions has centered on professional football players, athletes of all ages playing in a variety of sports can sustain concussions that can impact them throughout their lives. Too often, schools and leagues don't exercise proper precautions with young players to prevent injury and don't get players checked for concussions when they do suffer injuries. Attorneys with experience in sports-related concussions concussions can help victims and their families seek compensation for medical treatment, therapy and other damages that result from the negligence of those who are responsible for protecting the safety of athletes.