On March 24, 2016, Alan Schwarz of the New York Times wrote a revealing article outlining the actions the NFL took to manipulate the opinions of neurologists they retained to study the effect of concussions and the health risks related thereto. The article also suggests that the NFL has relied upon lobbyists and lawyers also retained by the Tobacco industry, who used them to deny health risks associated with smoking cigarettes. Schwarz’s article has revealed information not previously made public, including the fact that the NFL omitted at least 100 reported concussions (many suffered by star players such as Steve Young and Troy Aikman). At least one doctor retained by the NFL to study the effects of concussions on the brain admitted that if the data supplied to him was incomplete then his opinions would not be valid. Continue reading
As the publicity of the NFL’s concussion crisis continues to increase, and public pressure continues to mount for the NFL to assume financial responsibility for the costs associated with injuries suffered by former NFL players, the NFL continues to deny former player’s claims for workers’ compensation benefits. The most recent example is former NFL player Robert Alexander, who suffered a cracked vertebrae in his neck, had his claim denied and has now been pending for 3 years in California. Continue reading
In October of 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a new bill that restricts the rights of many former professional athletes from pursuing workers’ compensation benefits in California. It is not often that the topic of workers’ compensation draws the attention of the mainstream media, however given the popularity of the topics of NFL concussions and the rising cost of medical care, this issue has certainly become extremely important to former professional athletes and owners of professional sports franchises alike.
WHY WAS CALIFORNIA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SO IMPORTANT FOR NFL PLAYERS?
California has long allowed former players to receive compensation for “cumulative trauma” and has a liberal statute of limitations. Most other states do not recognize cumulative trauma and have very restrictive statutes of limitations. In the past, many former players who either lived or played for teams outside of California and did not begin to suffer the effects of sports related injuries until after the statute of limitations had elapsed in their home state would turn to California as their fall back option, providing them with necessary compensation for medical care. Continue reading
PBS’ Frontline series received significant attention this week for the premier of “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” which premiered on October 8th at 9:00 p.m. This television program is based on the book of the same title written by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wadu. The authors are both employed by ESPN, however ESPN, who has a broadcast contract with the NFL, refused to get involved with the production of the documentary due to their multi-billion dollar financial interest in the NFL. The documentary and book shed light on the affirmative steps taken by the NFL for the past 20 years to deny any link between head trauma sustained while playing football and brain injury. The authors were able to uncover the truth of the matter, which is that the NFL paid “independent” doctors (who were obviously not independent because they were paid by the NFL) to author reports serving the interests of the NFL by either denying or downplaying the effects that head trauma can cause to the brain.
This story has garnered significant media exposure because the NFL is most popular sport in the United States. However, as any plaintiff’s personal injury or employee’s workers compensation attorney can tell you from first-hand experience, the NFL is not the biggest business or industry in our country that has shamelessly tried to deny or downplay the effects of head trauma to the brain. That distinction belongs to our country’s insurance industry which provides liability and workers compensation insurance to those who may cause brain injuries to others due to their negligent actions, or to employers who employ those who have suffered a brain injury at work. The insurance industry has been denying the link between head trauma and brain injury for even longer than the NFL, the only difference being that the insurance industry has spent tenfold in doing so and in turn saved themselves even more money by denying the link, all at the expense of those who have suffered serious brain injuries.