After years of litigation, the NFL and more than 4,500 retired players reached a proposed $765-million settlement of concussion-related lawsuits last week. Former U.S. District Judge Layn Phillips announced that the parties have agreed to a settlement that would resolve the legal claims brought by the former NFL players by providing $675 million to a compensation fund, $75 million for medical exams, and $10 million for a research and education fund.
According to NBC News, former players with severe conditions like Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as the families of players diagnosed after death with the degenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, would be entitled to payouts as high as $5 million.
Former Philadelphia Eagles running back Kevin Turner, 44, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease four years ago, said the payouts “will lift a huge burden off the men who are suffering right now.”
With difficulty speaking as a result of the progressive disease, Turner said, “It’s easy to forget just how many men have played in the NFL throughout the years. In the future they may wind up unfortunately like me, and they know that is a real probability.”
Since players may not develop symptoms for years, the settlement will cover anyone who is retired at the time the settlement is approved by a federal judge in the upcoming months. Moreover, retired players do not need to prove that they suffered a concussion or that an on-field injury caused their brain illness in order to be covered by the settlement. The more than 4,000 plaintiffs include 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with the families of former San Diego Charger Junior Seau, ex-Atlanta Falcon Ray Easterling, and former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson, whose suicides in 2011 and 2012 brought the long-lasting effects and severity of football head injuries to light.
The lawsuit accused the NFL of failing to properly treat players for traumatic head injuries, including concussions, and concealing the link between football and head injuries. The players alleged that the NFL knew of the harmful risks associated with multiple concussions as early as the 1920s, but did not disclose this information to players until 2010.
As we have reported, traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, have been linked to a number of lifelong medical problems, including depression, fatigue, sleep problems, and increased risk for stroke. Research shows that NFL players were more likely to exhibit the physical symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, sleep problems and loss of sex drive, rather than mental symptoms, such as sadness.
Athletes are especially susceptible to repeat head injuries. In fact, an athlete who suffers a concussion is up to four times more likely to sustain a second concussion, according to neurologists. When a football player returns to play before he has fully recovered from the initial concussion, the athlete is at serious risk for secondary impact syndrome (SIS), which can result in massive swelling of the brain and, in some cases, may lead to a loss of blood flow to the brain, which can place the athletes at an increased risk for learning difficulties and other neuropsychological difficulties.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion, contact the Chicago head injury attorneys at Ankin Law Offices at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible cause of action.