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Insurance to Exclude Sports-Related Brain Injuries?

September 21, 2016

By Van Der Veen, Hartshorn, and Levin

Pennsylvania athletes who have sustained a brain injury while playing a contact sport may want to consider suing now, rather than waiting. First of all, it is important to contact an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer as soon as you suffer an injury because the sooner you start the legal procedures, the better. More importantly, though, according to Business Insurance, insurance companies are getting concerned about the recent influx of professional sports league lawsuits regarding players’ head injuries, as well as the increased awareness about long-term effects of concussions.

Failure to Protect Players from Head Injury Leads to Lawsuits

Professional athletes can obtain what is considered a professional athlete insurance policy. A recent class action settlement against the National Football League was just approved in April by the Philadelphia 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for $1 billion for failing to protect players from head injuries. In July, Riddell Inc. was sued by retired NFL football players for allegedly neglecting to advise players that the helmets made by the company would not prevent brain injuries.

Injuries That Have Led to Lawsuits and Insurance Claims

In July, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. was sued by former professional wrestlers for the head injuries that occurred during WWE matches. In 2013, a Carolina Panther sustained a career-ending concussion and filed a claim with his professional athlete insurance policy to pursue benefits he was entitled to. Due to these claims and lawsuits, insurance companies are seriously considering substantially raising premiums for professional athlete insurance policies, as well as excluding head trauma from these types of policies.

Head Injury Exclusions Already Occurring

In fact, some insurance companies have already excluded head injuries from their policies. AIG, for example, is one of the insurance companies that has taken head injuries out of all policies that cover NFL players. The insurance company has also discontinued its coverage for the youth football league, Pop Warner, entirely.

Failure to Get Proper Treatment

One of the biggest problems before these legal issues arose was that players refused to acknowledge their injuries and would continue to play. They were aware that someone else was just waiting for their turn to get out on the field at take over their position, so they would cover up their injuries and keep playing, risking further injury. Then, many would return back to the field even when the doctors told them to take time off, rather than taking the time to heal and get proper treatment for their injuries.

Long-Term Damage

Knowing the long-term damage that might have already been sustained by a professional athlete who suffered a head injury makes the stakes even higher. The sports leagues and professional athletes were not always aware of the long-term damage that head injuries could be accountable for. It is no wonder that insurance companies are getting nervous and want to exclude head injuries from policies, as it could get incredibly expensive as time goes on.

If you or a loved one participates in a professional sports league, you need to realize that head injuries are a true possibility. Be sure to look into your insurance policy so you know what it covers and what it will not. There is a good chance that the policy already has an exclusion for head trauma. To discuss a possible head injury case with a Philadelphia personal injury attorney who is experienced in working with insurance companies and head injuries. Contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim today. We offer a risk-free consultation.


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