Thousands of former NFL players are injured, and some have even died, as a result of sustaining repeated, high velocity, heavy impact hits from playing professional football. Concussions and head trauma (despite wearing helmets) are among the most prominent injuries. Even low-impact head injuries can have lasting effects that require specific, long-term medical treatment.
Many former NFL players are involved in workers' compensation claims against their former employer (the teams they played for) to recover compensation for brain-related injuries resulting in cognitive disability and, in some cases, dementia. Many retired players also sued the NFL for covering up its knowledge about the permanent effects of brain trauma. This week, a U.S. judge approved a new settlement with the NFL that is a positive step for players.
The settlement affects thousands of former players who sued the NFL over concussion injuries. Now, these players could see as much as $5 million for their injuries.
US District Court Judge Anita Brody called the settlement "fair", saying it "ensures that there are sufficient funds available to pay all claims through the 65-year term of the settlement."
The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. Trauma can cause immeasurable damage to a player, and in some cases the full scope of the injury is not able to be seen immediately following the trauma. This settlement proves positive for both formerly injured players involved in lawsuits, as well as those who could face injuries in the future.
Leaving damages "uncapped" for NFL-related injuries shows that the severity of concussions and head trauma in the NFL are finally being recognized in the courtroom. Capping a settlement puts provisions on the amount that the injured player is given for future medical treatment.
So what does this settlement mean for ex-players? It provides financial security for former players, ensures that they receive adequate medical treatment and that their rehabilitation needs are met. This includes future needs for concussion-related dementia treatment and "break throughs" in this emerging area of football-related injuries.
Perhaps these changes will also show positive movements toward safer structuring of helmets and other safety gear that helps prevent concussions and head injuries. Not only could enhancements benefit players in the NFL, but for players at the high school and college level.
For more information on NFL concussion litigation you can visit our page on advocacy for injured football players.