Workers Comp claim for dementia from head trauma and concussions in the NFL

While football players certainly “assume the risk of harm” in their sport, such as would prevent any lawsuits, the workers comp “no fault” system may provide for medical care and partial wage replacement for those ex-footballers with head injuries, multiple concussion and traumatic brain injury.  In one case, an NFL lineman, his doctor and lawyers claim that his dementia relates to his football employment.  This represents a significant shift, as brain injuries are only recently being addressed by the leagues, team doctors, trainers and sports medicine research.  California workers comp practitioners have estimated the case’s potential value at more than $1 million if it reaches its conclusion, probably in two or three years.

Most claims are paid by teams or insurance carriers; if the responsible insurance company is out of business, which is not uncommon with retired-athlete claims, a state-operated fund pays them. But that fund is underwritten by businesses already paying workers’ compensation insurance, not by taxpayers, and football cases do not present significant cost to the state, according to the executive director of the California Insurance Guarantee Association.

Here is a follow up article on the legal status of the claims in California {“Teams Dispute Workers’ Comp Rights“)

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