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NFL Pays Out Over $500 Million in Claims in Concussion Settlement

By: Allan M. Siegel

In late July, the special master overseeing the National Football League’s concussion settlement announced that just over a half a billion dollars in claims have been paid out to former NFL players and their families. According to the league’s concussion settlement information website, a total of 521 claims worth $502 million have been paid out over the past year and a half, a figure that exceeds the NFL’s original estimates over what it intended to pay over 10 years.

The NFL’s announcement means that the league has now surpassed the halfway point for awards under the terms of its settlement, which took effect in 2017 shortly after the Supreme Court rejected challenges in the case, and a year after the league officially admitted to links between head trauma and long-term brain disease among players.

Per the terms of the settlement, the league is to pay over 20,000 eligible former athletes and families up to $1 billion over 65 years to compensate them for neurological conditions they suffered as a result of head injuries sustained during their careers. The settlement terms also call for tiered awards based on the type and severity of a player’s neurological condition. For example, the league is to pay:

  • $5 million for Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
  • $4 million for CTE (a condition found in 99% of former NFL athletes)
  • $3.5 million for Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease
  • $3 million for Early to Moderate Dementia

The progress made in payouts to claimants may have been driven in part by outspoken athletes and advocates who earlier this year raised concerns that retired players with certain conditions, including early dementia, were being paid far below the NFL’s court-filed projections. Additionally, lawyers for the retired players had adjusted their estimates in early July, stating that the settlement would likely reach $1.4 billion – nearly half a billion more than the NFL’s estimate.

While the update is certainly welcomed and positive news, we are concerned that the funds allocated will not last the more than 60 years that these funds are to be available. These funds are supposed to be available not only to retired athletes struggling with debilitating conditions now, but also the many others who may be diagnosed in the future.

Compensation aside, there is still ample debate as to what the league should be doing to prevent or reduce the risks of players suffering from these conditions, such as ongoing research, improved safety policies, and even potential rule changes to the sport. And for some players, including athletes who suffer from the most severe conditions and families who have lost loved ones, the money paid out by the NFL is still less important than having the league treat them with respect, acknowledge that football led to their suffering, and take steps to prevent the same tragic consequences for others in the future.

Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is a Washington, DC personal injury law firm that represents injured victims and families throughout DC, Virginia, and Maryland, including victims of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). As Preferred Attorneys for the DC Metro Area by the Brain Injury Association of America and recognized advocates in the field of brain injuries, our legal team is passionate about helping clients who suffer from the long-term if not life-altering impact of TBI. For more information about the brain injury cases we handle, or to discuss a case of your own, call (202) 644-8303 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.