By: Allan M. Siegel
Former NFL players who were part of the historic class action concussion
lawsuit against the NFL have stepped forward to allege that the league
is dragging its feet in providing claimants with compensation they’re
entitled to receive. In a filing submitted on March 20th, a group of players
covered under the settlement allege payouts for claims involving athletes
diagnosed with dementia are not being paid as the NFL promised, and that
the league is actively trying to manipulate the settlement process and
evade payments. The NFL has publicly denied the allegations.
The NFL concussion settlement was major legal case between more than 20,000
former athletes and the National Football League over claims that the
league concealed risks about the serious, long-term consequences of head
injuries and repetitive concussions sustained by athletes. It was officially
made final in January of 2017, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled
that it would
not hear challenges in the case, and nearly a year after the league finally
acknowledged a link between football-related head trauma and serious degenerative brain diseases.
Per the terms of the settlement, the NFL is required to pay former athletes
up to $1 billion over 65 years. Compensation is based on the type of conditions
suffered by athletes and their severity. For example, maximum financial
awards for players with the following diagnosed conditions include:
- ALS / Lou Gehrig’s Disease - $5 million
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) - $4 million
- Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease - $3.5 million
- Moderate Dementia - $3 million
- Early Dementia - $3 million
NFL Settlement: Year One
The players’ claims are supported by the latest settlement report,
which show the NFL is falling behind on paying claims that involve dementia.
Here are some of the most important facts from the report:
- Dementia claims involving Level 1 and Level 2 neurocognitive impairment
make up the largest segment of claims under the settlement, comprising
over 1,110 of the more than 1,700 claims made in the first year of the
- Of the 1,110+ claims citing a diagnosis of early or moderate dementia,
just 6 have been paid, for a total of less than $5 million. That’s
far below the NFL’s court-filed projections, which anticipated paying
out more than 400 dementia-related claims worth $72 million within the
- To date, 183 former players have received payment under the settlement
totaling $150 million. The NFL’s projections anticipated 665 claims
being paid a total of $243 million.
- At least 143 claims have been approved but not yet paid (totaling $198),
though some are subject to appeal.
- Although the NFL has no say in approving or denying claims under the settlement,
it can appeal. The report shows that 35 cases approved for a financial
award were later appealed by the league. Most are being processed, but
10 have been upheld and 2 overturned.
The court-appointed law firm overseeing claims and administration of settlement
funds, BrownGreer, said the NFL is not involved in the process, and that
there are a number of reason why payments have been delayed, including
hundreds of “suspicious” claims requiring additional evaluation,
and difficulties in arriving at an accurate diagnosis for dementia, a
condition not as clear-cut as CTE, which is diagnosable only after death
and has been found in
99% of former NFL players. They also say that as many as 3/4 of dementia claims lack required medical
records and documentation, apparently as a result over confusion about
requirements created by the settlement administrators.
Despite these issues, players who’ve been waiting for months, in
addition to the years they spent waiting for the class-action lawsuit
to resolve, still hold the NFL accountable for not providing ex-athletes
with the help they need. They also allege that the league is delaying
payments through numerous changes of review standards, secret procedures,
audits and technical readings, and appeals. Since dementia claims comprise
over 90% of the settlement agreement, they say, it makes sense why the
league would want to shut those claims down – it’s where all
the money is.
Issues raised by ex-athletes in their recent court filing show that victims
can still face uphill battles even after settlements have been finalized
by a court. Although there is certainly the potential for delays caused
by procedural and medical issues, defendants should be held accountable
for taking all reasonable measures to provide compensation they are legally
required to pay. By making their voices heard, former athletes are hopeful
that the process will become more streamlined moving forward, and that
they will receive the much needed compensation they deserve.
Our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has been
designated as “Preferred Attorneys” in the DC Metro area by
the Brain Injury Association of America for our continued work in the
field of brain injury litigation. Over the years, our attorneys have represented
many victims and families, including athletes, whose lives have been changed by
brain injuries. We know the importance of securing full and fair compensation, and the
need for defendants to swiftly provide the payouts victims and their loved
ones need to cope with the numerous struggles they face.
As we continue to fight for brain injury victims across DC, Virginia, and
Maryland, we also closely follow brain injury news in hopes of raising
awareness about these serious injuries and battles victims face, and to
prompt action and changes that benefit families. If you have a questions
about concussions, brain injuries, and personal injury claims,
contact our firm for a free consultation.