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NFL brain injury settlement still under review by federal court

On the topic of brain injuries, few developments have garnered more attention recently than the concussion controversy in the National Football League. For almost a year and a half, courts have received filings from approximately 5,000 former football players alleging that to increase their profits league officials hid the dangers of concussions in the sport.

At this point in the case players who were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy before the existing settlement was approved in July are eligible to receive up to $4 million in compensation, depending on the extent of the injuries that they can prove. Anyone who claims or proves that he had CTE after July of 2014 is not eligible for any portion of the settlement.

One concern of the plaintiffs is that the criteria being used by the NFL to prove CTE are inadequate and do not address players with symptoms that fall outside its experts' description of CTE.

Because they feel that the settlement does not represent their best individual interest, some players have opted out of the settlement, intending to file their own lawsuits. One notable player who has chosen to opt out is former Dallas Cowboys star Tony Dorsett, along with eight other Hall of Fame players.

The NFL argues that the preliminary settlement should be sufficient to satisfy all of the claims, and some representatives for the players agree. Both point to the need to pay out benefits as quickly as possible to compensate former players like Kevin Turner, whose life expectancy has been shortened by Lou Gehrig’s disease.

While most victims of a brain injury are not celebrities or professional athletes, the rehabilitation and long-term care required for any brain injury can require extensive medical expenses.

When someone else may have caused that brain injury, whether an employer as big as the NFL or a negligent driver, a court may award compensation for pain and suffering and out-of-pocket expenses.

Anyone who has suffered any type of brain injury, or who has a loved one who has been disabled or even died as the result of a brain injury, should contact an attorney with knowledge of this very specific area of law.

Source: New York Times, "Opponents of N.F.L. Concussion Settlement Make Case for Altering It," Ken Belson, Nov. 19, 2014

Secondary Source: Sports Day DFW, "Cowboys great Tony Dorsett among 9 Hall of Famers to opt out NFL concussion settlement, saying 'My case is my case,'" Brad Townsend, Nov. 4, 2014

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