Judge Approves Settlement in NFL Concussion Lawsuit
The long-term impact of concussions in football and other contact sports has become a major health concern. This focus on sports-related head injuries is the result of former NFL stars publically disclosing the impact of repeated head trauma on their quality of life. The issue of traumatic head injuries in football has permeated all levels of the sport from the professional ranks to youth football leagues. Many people have been watching the NFL concussion litigation to assess how the issue might be handled at the college, high school and youth league levels.
The landmark lawsuit involving NFL players appears to have been settled. A federal judge formally approved a settlement that would provide compensation to thousands of former NFL players who suffer the effects of concussion-related injuries. The ruling came approximately two weeks after the NFL agreed to eliminate a $675 million cap on damages from the proposed settlement. U.S. District Judge Anita Brody had previously expressed skepticism that the settlement would be sufficient to pay all claims with the cap in place.
Approximately 4,500 former NFL players have filed suit against the NFL for concussion-related injuries. Some of the players even alleged that the league was fraudulent in the way it handled concussion injuries. The settlement is intended to last a minimum of 65 years and provide $1 million or more in compensation to retired NFL players who develop significant neurological problems like Lou Gehrig's disease.
Although the cap has been removed, both the NFL and players indicate that they do not foresee the compensation exceeding $675 million in compensatory claims. The compensatory part of the settlement is structured based on the age of the former player and severity of any neurological impact suffered by the player.
The settlement also reportedly includes $75 million for baseline testing and $10 million for medical research and education. Some involved in the litigation have indicated that they may opt out of the settlement because the league is getting off too easily. Annual NFL revenues reportedly approach $10 billion. Those that opt out of the settlement will face litigation challenges in establishing that their injuries were caused by concussions experienced as an NFL player rather than in college or youth football leagues. Many players also are involved in another lawsuit against the NCAA for concussion-related injuries.
Some football players suffer football-related head injury because of defective helmets. In other cases, coaches may make the decision to allow players to begin practicing or playing again before symptoms from a prior concussion have subsided. If your loved one is suffering from the effects of a traumatic brain injury caused by defective protective equipment or lack of care by coaches and staff, your family member may have a right to financial compensation.
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