NCAA Settles Head Injury Lawsuit for $70M, Set to Change Rules

In response to a class-action lawsuit alleging the National Collegiate Athletic Association failed to protect college athletes from head injuries, the agency has settled, with the agreement to establish a $70 million fund to cover the costs incurred by thousands of current and former athletes for testing to determine whether they suffered brain trauma while playing contact sports.
Additionally, the agency is rewriting its playbook with regard to how it determines whether a player is medically-cleared to return to the game after sustaining a hit. The deal doesn’t set aside any funds for players who may have sustained a brain injury, unlike a previous settlement reached following a similar lawsuit against the National Football League. Instead, it provides money to current and former athletes for testing. If it is determined they have incurred neurological damage as a result of their involvement in college sports, they can pursue litigation individually.

Some sports safety advocates have criticized the deal as not going far enough, arguing that individual players could receive as little as a few thousand dollars per suit, whereas a class action settlement might have exceeded $2 billion. Players seeking to maximize their compensation would do well to consult with an experienced Charlotte head injury lawyer.

Primarily, the deal is directed toward those individuals who participated in college-level contact sports, including football, basketball, ice hockey, wrestling, field hockey, soccer and lacrosse. More than 1,000 NCAA member schools are included in the settlement, and there was no designated cutoff for when athletes must have played in order to initiate testing. Essentially, that means virtually all current and former college athletes are eligible to undergo the tests. Then, if the testing finds neurological abnormalities, they can follow that up with a claim against the school.

Including just those athletes who played from 2004 through 2009, the figure would near 30,000.

The measure did not require the association to admit any fault or concede that it downplayed the perilous nature of concussions. It was the result of 10 lawsuits that were consolidated into one heard in Chicago, as the first had been filed there three years ago.

One of those plaintiffs, who used to play football in Illinois, alleged he sustained five concussions during his time on the field. One was so serious he didn’t recognize his parents afterward. Another alleged he was forced to drop out of school after sustaining a series of sports-related head injuries that left him feeling “like an Alzheimer’s patient.”

In addition to testing for former players, new players will be tested at the beginning of each season, and then later at the end, to determine whether the severity of any concussion warrants further analysis or perhaps removal from the field.

In 2013, the University of North Carolina completed a study for The American Football Coaches Association, The National Collegiate Athletic Association and The National Federation of High School Associations detailing the head injuries sustained by football players nationwide.

Researchers found that during the 2012 football season, two direct fatalities were noted among football players, both playing at the semi-professional level. That same year, there were 13 indirect fatalities, or those attributed to heat stroke, heart attacks, asthma and other causes. Four of those happened at the college level and nine at the high school level. Between 1960 and 2012, there have been 133 football-related heat stroke deaths reported. Nearly half of those have been since just 1995.

Contact our Charlotte personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
NCAA Settles Head-Injury Suit, Will Change Rules, July 29, 2014, By Michael Tarm, Associated Press

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S. Shore Baseball, LLC v. DeJesus; Premises Liability Cases and Assumption of Risk, July 20, 2014, Charlotte Sporst Injury Lawyer Blog

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