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"The settlement...will provide a guaranteed lifetime safety net to players who develop severe neurological injuries. We intend to be there to help our clients through every step of that process."
ATLANTA, GA, July 02, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- On June 25, the motion for preliminary approval of the NFL Concussion litigation settlement was again submitted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Approval was held up for six months after Judge Anita Brody requested details about whether the $675 million the NFL initially agreed to was enough to cover all players. That is now a moot point, as the league has agreed to remove any cap on limits. Once the settlement is approved by Judge Brody, the players will have a period of about 180 days within which to decide what is best for them.
The proposed settlement covers approximately 20,000 former NFL football players for injuries related to brain trauma. The settlement came after a year of negotiations between counsel for the NFL and counsel for the approximately 4,800 former players who initially sued the league.
Once preliminary approval is granted by the Court, it will begin a process of notice to all former players, providing a detailed explanation of the terms of the proposed settlement and a timeframe for anyone who wants to object or opt out of the settlement.
Attorney Bruce Hagen, one of the attorneys representing NFL players, states "the settlement will provide a guaranteed lifetime safety net to players who develop severe neurological injuries after their NFL playing careers have ended. The players and their families who have been suffering with the worst effects from serious brain trauma will now be able to get some relief through what will hopefully be a quick and efficient process, albeit one that still requires proof of players' eligibility for payment. We intend to be there to help our clients through every step of that process."
Players are encouraged to review the settlement details with legal counsel. If a player chooses to opt-out, it's important to note that he legally gives up all rights to access any of the lifetime settlement benefits that would otherwise be guaranteed to the former players once the settlement is approved by the Court. However, a player that does choose to opt-out retains his right to pursue his individual claim against the NFL, although that individual claim will then be subject to the many defenses that the NFL raised or could have raised in the NFL Concussion Litigation.
A key success of the settlement is that compensation is available to players without forcing them to prove that the concussions they sustained directly caused their neurological impairments. Additionally, players don't have to prove that their injuries were suffered while employed by an NFL team as opposed to college or even youth and high school football. It was expected that if the litigation reached trial, defense attorneys for the NFL would attempt to force plaintiffs to prove when their brain trauma-related injuries occurred. And because of pressing medical problems, it is in the interest of many players to get to benefit distribution expeditiously. For these reasons, it is expected that many former players will accept the agreement.
The main points of the settlement are that the NFL will pay to cover the costs of medical evaluation of all former players and payment to all players who have compensable claims, defined as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease), death with a post-mortem diagnosis of CTE, or neurological impairment of a severe or moderate nature. The approximately 20,000 retirees from professional football are covered in the plan, even players who were not plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The terms of the settlement are somewhat complicated, with a sliding scale of payments based on the number of years of NFL play, the player's age, severity of impairment and other factors. A Baseline Assessment Program ("BAP") for former players will be performed by independent, non-NFL doctors to provide a thorough neurological and psychological health baseline.
A procedure for submitting claims for payment will be developed. If a player presently does not have any symptoms, or does not have symptoms that rise to the level of being a compensable condition, but symptoms develop later in life, that player can apply for and receive compensation when the symptoms are diagnosed at any point in their lives over the next 65 years, the length of time covered by the settlement.
It is also possible to qualify for a benefit based on a less severe diagnosis, and later receive additional funds based on a worsening condition and more severe diagnosis. For instance a player could be diagnosed with Level 1.0 Mild Dementia and begin receiving immediate medical benefits, and later be diagnosed with Level 2.0 Moderate Dementia or Alzheimer's disease and receive financial compensation. The agreement essentially provides players with an insurance policy against neurological conditions that will last for the rest of their lives. All payments are in addition to any other benefits that the players are already receiving or entitled to receive under existing plans, including NFL disability plans, SSI and worker's compensation.
For more details on this settlement, contact attorney Bruce A. Hagen. Bruce has been involved in the NFL concussion litigation since its beginning and represents close to 500 clients in the case. Bruce was one of the first lawyers in the country to pursue this case on behalf of retired NFL players and is committed to helping players in any way possible.
The Law Firm of Bruce A Hagen has over 30 years experience fighting for the rights of those who have been injured by the carelessness and/or neglect of others in the Atlanta Metro Area. In addition to the NFL Concussion lawsuite, Bruce's practice areas include personal injury, car accidents, wrongful death, motorcycle accidents and truck accidents. Bruce fights big insurance companies for the people to recover the maximum amount possible.
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