Brain Injury Awareness: The Latest in the NFL and NCAA Concussion Lawsuits

Brain Injury Awareness: The Latest in the NFL and NCAA Concussion Lawsuits

Each year, millions of Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Even though 80 percent of TBI cases are categorized as mild head injuries (concussions), this sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells. If a concussion occurred through a physical activity, it’s crucial to wait until the brain has recovered to return to play. Concussion injuries are cumulative, meaning the more concussions sustained may cause lasting and possibly progressive impairments, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Throughout much of the last decade, the NFL and NCAA have come under scrutiny regarding player safety for their alleged failure to protect players from concussions and its after-effects. Despite numerous studies linking TBIs to long-term cognitive damage such as CTE, Dementia, Alzheimer’s and ALS, these organizations downplayed and ignored the issue. Numerous lawsuits against the NFL and NCAA allege these Leagues concealed knowledge of the long-term effects of brain injuries caused by football hits have led to the following settlement stipulations:

NFL Settlement

On January 7, 2017 the National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation class action settlement was finalized offering financial compensation to retired NFL football players suffering from neurological injuries caused by sustaining concussions during their playing years.  Players who receive qualifying diagnoses of Death with CTE (diagnosed prior to April 22, 2015), ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Level 2 Neurocognitive Impairment (moderate Dementia), and Level 1.5 Neurocognitive Impairment (early Dementia) and retired from the NFL on or before July 7, 2014 may qualify for monetary awards. By July 2018, more than $500.00 in claims was approved under the concussion settlement and with thousands of more claims to be expected, settlements could each more than half billion more than the NFL had originally estimated.

NCAA Settlement

The NCAA sponsored a study on the effects of concussions and learned it took at least a full week for athletes to recover and that one concussion makes a player more susceptible for a second.  Despite this knowledge, the Association waited almost 10 years to begin to make guidelines for concussion best practices. Recent lawsuits and increased scrutiny will hopefully change the way the NCAA regulates concussions so athletes can continue to play in a safe environment. The Association reached a settlement in August 2019 in the class action concussion lawsuit for all athletes that played an NCAA-sanctioned sport at an NCAA member school prior to July 15, 2016. Even though the NCAA denies any wrong doing, the settlement, which went into effect on November 18, 2019 entitles players to free medical screenings – also known as Medical Monitoring – up to two times until November 18, 2069 (50 years after the Settlement’s Effective Date). It’s important to note that you don’t have to have been diagnosed with a concussion to be a part of the settlement class.

Each March, Brain Injury Awareness month is observed, led by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). This year’s campaign: #ChangeYourMind aims to inform and educate the public about the severity of brain injuries, promote support and safety, and recognize the growing prevalence of TBI’s and concussions in our society and the high risk factor for post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric disorders. 

The attorneys at GPW have investigated the devastating effects of brain injury in sports among NFL, NCAA players, and high school athletes. Effects from a concussion may only be apparent for a few days, but the damage from a TBI can last a life time. At Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., we are dedicated to helping injured individuals and are available to discuss your needs in a free consultation. By working with the best medical professionals, GPW has the ability and opportunity to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Alan Georges, James G. Booker, “Traumatic Brain Injury,” NCBI StatPearls Publishing (January 2020). [Link]

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