Head injuries incurred from sports-related activities are on of the fastest growing health insurance claims, according to a recent report from CNBC. The report notes that recent high-profile sports-related lawsuits over brain injuries sustained as a result of engaging in various athletic activities have highlighted the severity of such injuries, and have encouraged more people to report them and seek appropriate medical treatment. Two of the most notable cases that have received extensive media coverage include a class-action settlement last year between the National Football League and thousands of former players from that league as well as a more recent class-action lawsuit filed by more than 50 former professional wrestlers against a major wrestling entertainment company.
The momentum that both of these cases have achieved may be a catalyst in encouraging other professional and amateur players engaged in sports where they wear protective headgear to follow suit and seek compensation from entities such as athletic leagues, schools, helmet manufacturers, and retailers that sell safety equipment.
Basis of Legal Claims
Standard & Poor’s, an international company that provides credit ratings and market insight based on research, was the author of the information used in the article. It paints similarities between sports-related neurological claims and asbestos-related claims, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Specifically, both injuries sustained as a result of an activity are latent injuries. This means they could take weeks, months, years, or even decades to manifest after an incident that may trigger them.
It is often difficult in both cases to assert a successful initial claim that is comprehensive enough to cover potential damages sustained as a result of related activities, which is why it may have taken so long for former professional football players and retired wrestlers to realize the full effect brain injuries may have had on them. As a result, Standard & Poor’s notes that many insurance companies are actually capping payouts on concussion lawsuits and including exclusion clauses in policies for concussion-related injuries.
While each legal action is unique, recent actions concerning sports-related head injuries have primarily focused on professional athletic groups’ negligence in informing members of the potential severity of such injuries. In other words, many lawsuits attempt to demonstrate that the agency charged with governing a certain sport or group of athletes was aware of the potential risk of such injuries but did not inform players, did not enact measures to prevent such injuries, and/or allowed activities that could cause such injuries to continue.