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Challenges to the NFL Concussion Settlement Rejected by The Supreme Court

Written by Berkowitz

NFL Concussion Settlement

Connecticut Attorney Serving those with Sports-Related Head Injuries

The National Football League (NFL) made headlines last year when it announced that it had reached a settlement for the head trauma and injuries which players had suffered over the last few years. The class action lawsuit was filed by former players who accused the NFL of covering up what was known about players’ head injuries and brain diseases – specifically, the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) condition.

About the Case

More than 20,000 retired players were part of the class-action lawsuit. The settlement reached final approval stages by a judge in 2015; however, the deal was challenged by another group of players who argued that the settlement for injured retirees left out former players who had not been diagnosed yet.

The argument for the case went on to state that the NFL’s executive vice president for health and safety had acknowledged during his congressional testimony that there was a connection between football and CTE. Therefore, they felt that those players who are not diagnosed yet should receive a renegotiated deal with the court and the NFL.

A federal court of appeals had denied the appeal. They stated that the NFL did not admit wrongdoing in their statement, and that the lower court’s decision would be upheld. Now that the challenges are over, all players involved in the class-action suit will receive their compensation.

The settlement pays for all medical costs and other benefits for those players who suffered a head trauma during their career; it may cost the NFL as much as $1 billion over the next 65 years, depending on how much the league pays to each of the 20,000 players listed in the lawsuit.

Players were classified based on their different brain injuries, which were directly related to their CTEs. The payouts ranged from $1.5 million to as much as $5 million per injury.

What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain that is most common in athletes who suffer head trauma during play. Anyone with repetitive brain injuries could suffer from CTE. A person with CTE will have a brain that gradually deteriorates and, over time, will lose brain mass. Certain areas will become enlarged, while others will atrophy.

Those with CTE can experience life-changing repercussions. It will affect them, their loved ones, and the remainders of their careers. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty controlling behavior
  • Impaired judgement
  • Behavioral problems, including depression and aggression
  • Balance issues
  • Onset of dementia

The Growing Issue of NFL Injuries

The case highlights a growing issue: The number of concussions and head trauma cases related to the NFL.

These players are professionals, but that does not mean that they should suffer extreme damages as a result of their careers. The NFL should not have covered up the fact that it knew about the direct correlation between injuries to the brain and former players’ sufferings from CTE. CTE is caused by multiple, repeated blows to the head. It is a form of traumatic brain injury, and it leaves a player permanently damaged.

What is more haunting is how the NFL covered up the real statistics about CTE. A study performed by researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University found that CTE was found in 79 percent of players during various levels of their careers, and in 96 percent of deceased NFL players. In fact, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of retired NFL players have suffered from a traumatic brain injury according to MRI data, reports The Washington Post.

Despite many efforts – and even the lawsuit – there are even more shocking statistics about traumatic brain injuries in the NFL:

  • Concussions increased, rather than decreased, in 2015. Over the past three years, the NFL has seen a decrease in the number of concussions. However, there was an increase in 2015 that showed 271 concussions reported during the season, which was 65 more than in 2014.
  • Not all concussions were reported by the NFL. The number of concussions from 2015 is likely to be underestimated, because in a 2013 report by PBS, it was found that nearly one-third of the concussions suffered were not listed. This is because the NFL does not require injury reports during training camps or off weeks to be recorded.
  • An estimated 100 concussions are omitted from NFL numbers. The New York Times received access to the data compiled by the NFL and found that it did not report concussions in multiple instances.
  • Almost half of players with reported concussions still play in the game. PBS also found that 49.5 percent of concussed players still returned to the game.
  • Wide receivers suffer the most concussions. Out of all the players in the NFL, wide receivers and cornerbacks had the most concussions per group.
  • Half of the concussions were caused by helmet-to-helmet contact. A large majority of the concussions seen in the NFL were due to helmet contact.
  • Nearly 87 out of the 91 deceased NFL players had brain disease. When the Department of Veterans Affairs studied the brains of 91 deceased NFL players, they found that all but four cases had signs of CTE.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

While not all brain injuries result in CTE, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are common among football players. When those traumatic brain injuries are left untreated and the player continues to receive blows to the head while recovering from a TBI, he or she is more likely to contract CTE.

TBIs are complex injuries that come with a variety of symptoms and disabilities related to them. CTE is one of the most common disabilities associated with TBI, but not the only one.

There are both short-term and long-term effects associated with a TBI. Most people are unaware that they have suffered from a TBI, and even fewer understand the complications associated with this serious condition. There are, however, two categories of TBIs: Mild and severe.

  • A mild TBI is one that exhibits symptoms of confusion, minimal loss of consciousness, cognitive issues, headaches, difficulty thinking, etc. While called “mild,” these injuries still require professional treatment.
  • A severe TBI involves a large loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes, memory loss, and a severe skull injury. While NFL players rarely encountered severe TBIs, they were prone to mild TBIs and continuous TBIs over time.

Treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury

Treatments for TBI depend on the severity. However, they typically involve:

  • Initial Treatment: This stabilizes the person immediately after the injury.
  • Rehabilitative Care: This will help restore the person to his or her daily life, or as best as possible, following the injury and its permanent effects.
  • Acute Treatment: This may include life support or care efforts that focus on minimizing a second injury.
  • Surgical Treatment: Sometimes, surgery is required to correct the issue, reduce swelling, and minimize pressure.

Long-Term Costs and Losses Associated with TBIs

TBIs, including those involving CTE, carry long-term economic burdens for the injured, as well as their loved ones. The costs of treatments for TBIs are extremely expensive, considering the technology and specialization required to properly treat them. For those who suffer from CTE, the treatments are extensive and the damage is permanent. Therefore, the player may encounter additional costs that include rehabilitation, multiple surgeries, hospitalization, medications, and long-term care costs that amount to an exorbitant total.

Receiving Compensation After a Sports-Related TBI

Anyone who suffers from a TBI due to a preventable injury or from someone’s negligence can receive compensation for that injury. Even professional sports players, as the above-mentioned lawsuit proves, can receive compensation. No one should have to suffer through a traumatic brain injury – or endure the excessive costs of this traumatic injury – on his or her own.

When a TBI or CTE is caused by someone’s negligence, the injured party has the right to collect compensation under personal injury law. Compensation can include long-term and past medical expenses directly related to the injury, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and more.

Are You Suffering from a TBI Related to Sports? Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC Today

If you suffered from a traumatic brain injury in an accident or if you have CTE from a sports-related injury, you may be eligible to collect compensation. To do so, you must speak with a personal injury attorney and file your claim for compensation against the negligent party. Let the personal injury advocates at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC help. We are aggressive and will not stop until you receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

All it takes is reaching out initially for a free consultation with an attorney. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call 866-479-7909 or contact us online to get started.