DC Concussion Legislation to Protect Youth Athletes Moves Closer to Implementation

Washington DC Personal Injury Lawyer Joseph Cammarata believes the time is now to “protect the rights of injured athletes and brain injury victims.”

To that end, he authored The Athletic Concussion Protection Act of 2011, which he said recently “is designed to protect athletes age 18 or younger in the District of Columbia from the risks of concussions. The Act applies to youth athletes participating in any type of athletic activity with any public, private, charter school, or youth league.

“The core of the Act – which is considered one of the most expansive pieces of similarly themed legislation in the country – requires an athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion to be immediately removed from practice or play. Athletes are not to return to play unless and until they receive clearance from a licensed health care provider. The Act also establishes requirements for an educational program for athletes and their parent or guardian and requires a training program to be established by rulemaking.”

On February 14, the attorney saw the act become closer to reality when the Mayor of the District of Columbia, through the Department of Health, published proposed rules to implement the concussion protection training program required by the Act.

The proposed training program requires each coach, athletic trainer, and physical education teacher to take online concussion training, as specified in the proposed rules, and to provide a certificate of completion to the organization for whom they are working. This training must be renewed every two years. The required training must be completed before they are allowed to supervise any practice. The proposed rules also require a school offering an athletic activity to provide training to school personnel to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion and their manifestations in a school setting. Comments on the proposed rules must be made no later than thirty days after their publication. A copy of the rules can be found at the D.C. Municipal Regulations and D.C. Register.

“The Act is a significant step toward protecting young athletes from the long-term risks posed by concussions and chronic brain injury,” said Cammarata.

Cammarata is currently representing a professional football player involved in the recent NFL concussion lawsuit. He is also a founder and current President of the Brain Injury Association of Washington, DC, a non-profit organization committed to brain injury victims and prevention, research, education, and advocacy.

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