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Helmets: How Do They Protect Against Serious Injury?

By: Anapol Weiss

The effectiveness of a helmet in protecting players during an impact rests on two basic safety components: the helmet’s shell and liner. Together, the shell and liner absorb and reduce the force from an impact that would otherwise likely cause serious injury.


Helmets almost always have a smooth, hard outer surface called a shell. The shell protects the head from being penetrated by objects. It also distributes an impact over a wider area rather than at one point, which reduces the force transmitted to the liner and possibly also the head. Many helmet shells are built with thermoplastic material that can buckle in on impact.


A shock absorbing liner is the second line of defense against head injury. It is positioned on the inside of the helmet’s shell to manage the force transmitted through the shell to the head. The liner absorbs the impact so that little to no force is transmitted to a player’s head and spine. The dimensions and characteristics of a liner determine how well it can absorb energy as it compresses.

The Danger of Defective Helmets

When a person’s head sustains an impact, a poorly designed helmet is not capable of absorbing or attenuating enough of the impact force to protect the head and spine. Improper protection can lead to permanent injuries including paralysis, traumatic brain injury, cervical spine fracture, and disruption or dislocation of the spinal cord.

It’s difficult to determine whether a helmet has failed. For decades, Anapol Weiss has investigated defective helmets to get the answers players need about the cause of their injuries. We have gone up against huge helmet manufacturers including Riddell to obtain justice and compensation for victims who were permanently hurt when their helmets failed to protect them.

Contact our firm for assistance if you believe you or a loved one was injured as a result of a defective helmet.