Thirty-eight retired NFL players have joined forces to sue the league to pay workers’ compensation benefits for their chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Insisting that it is a condition that stems from injuries sustained on the playing field, they feel they have the right to have their injuries covered through workers’ compensation. Filed in the US District Court of Florida, the suit is an attempt to force the National Football League to acknowledge that players who are living with CTE have an occupational injury that should be covered.
The players joined to sue the NFL, because the league has a history of overlooking and denying claims related to CTE. Believing there is strength in numbers, the ex-pros thought that by combining their personal experiences, spinal cord injury lawyer and limitations into one lawsuit, it might not fall on deaf ears as it has in the past. Apparently, they may be right. The 38 former pro-athletes have named 32 individual teams in the lawsuit, and the case is gaining steam.
The suit claims that as the science behind CTE continues to progress, there will be many more players who will need assistance, which will set up an entanglement of judicial and administrative chaos in the future if not decided upon now. The lawsuit is asking that both the NFL players’ collective bargaining agreement and workers’ compensation laws acknowledge chronic traumatic encephalopathy as an eligible disease to file a claim. It also aims to provide compensation to the ex-players’ spouses.
Mounting scientific evidence has been compiled for the past decade about the harmful effects and nature of head trauma and CTE, but the NFL refuses to admit that it is a real scientific diagnosis. Often dismissing it as “junk” science, if they admit that it is a chronic condition that renders players disabled in the future, they could be on the hook for billions of dollars in current and future payouts.
The Plaintiffs insist that there is overwhelming evidence that pro-athletes, especially football players, are experiencing symptoms later in life that are debilitating and require therapy as well as limiting their ability to function. Although the data is there, the NFL has refused to take steps to address it.
The filing already states the NFL organization has violated the OSHA guidelines because they failed to make players aware of the full risks of putting on a suit and heading out on the field. Although aware of the effects of CTE, they have done very little to tell the players about the real risks that are involved in playing in the NFL league.
Pro-athletes also maintain that they are still being instructed to use “helmets as a weapon” and to do “head banging” as a form of defense, which is knowingly increasing their risk for CTE. Although some executives have come to acknowledge the disease, as an organization, the NFL refuses to take steps to compensate those who are suffering from the effects of it.
CTE is a condition that is categorized by progressive, fatal degenerations and irreversible disease of the brain tissue directly related to the head trauma that athletes sustain while playing. It leaves many ex-players with the deterioration of spatial and motor skills, mood swings, memory loss, outbursts of anger, depression, insomnia and other difficulties in the self-care, necessary to maintain a quality of life.
The National Football League recently agreed to pay out over $1 billion in a settlement with former players who sued for concussion-related injuries resulting in brain damage. Approved by the courts, it is on hold because some players believe that it is simply not enough to compensate for the disability they are suffering.
Players believe that putting a cap and a settlement on concussion and CTE negates the fact that many who will come after the case will likewise need compensation. If players settle now without having the NFL admit to that CTE is a disease, it will make it just as difficult for players in the future, who are not yet exhibiting symptoms, to get fair compensation.