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Brain injury lawsuits against the NFL, insurers fight back

As many Maryland residents have no doubt heard, the National Football League has been hit with numerous personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits involving better than 2,400 now retired NFL players who are accusing the league of failing to protect players from brain injuries. The suits claim the NFL failed to act on evidence from the medical community that shows repeated trauma to the head can cause permanent brain injuries, as well as other long-term medical problems.

Now, a legal fight is brewing between the NFL and its insurers over who should be liable for the expenses involved in defending the NFL against the lawsuits. Some subsidiaries of Travelers Companies Inc. filed their own suit last week in New York. Alterra America Insurance Co. has also filed its own suit in New York and the NFL has filed suit against a number of insurers in Los Angeles. The purpose of the NFL's suit is to seek and "ensure an orderly and comprehensive determination of its insurance rights" and the obligations its insurers have in these matters.

The NFL's California lawsuit states insurance company policies that go as far back as the 1960s have refused to pay for the defense of lawsuits involving head injuries and that a court needs to tell these insurance companies what they are required to pay and be liable for should there be a judgment or settlement in any of these cases. The NFL has denied they withheld medical data regarding the dangers of repeat head injuries and concussions on long-term brain injuries and claims it has made safety a major priority in the league.

Concerns over brain injuries in football, including high school, college and professional level play have gained increasingly more media attention as the long-term damage caused by repeated hits to the head and neck receives more and more research and study. The lawsuits may have to prove the NFL knew about the long-term negative effects of repeated hits to the head and were negligent in not changing league policies in order to better protect players' health.

Personal injury lawsuits often result when a person is injured through the negligent or reckless acts of another person or entity. It will be interesting to follow these lawsuits as they proceed, especially in light of the NFL's investigation into the bounty system, which rewarded players for injuring other players and taking opponents out of the game.

Source: Delaware Online, "Insurers, NFL clash over suits," Aug. 23, 2012

Our Maryland law firm handles a variety of personal injury claims, including those involving serious brain injuries similar to the issues discussed in the above post. Visit our Rockville catastrophic injury page to learn more.

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