As part of an agreement to settle several consolidated class action head-injury lawsuits filed by its former players, the NCAA is paying $70 million for a medical monitoring program that will include medical testing and evaluation of current and former NCAA athletes who believe that they may have suffered concussion-caused brain trauma.

Positive findings will enable all athletes who qualify as a member of the class (all competitors for NCAA schools, including athletes who are not part of the current lawsuit) and whose testing indicates that they suffer from concussion-related brain trauma, to sue the NCAA and the school where they played.

Who qualifies for the testing and what does it entail?

Athletes who have engaged in the following sports qualify for testing:

  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Basketball
  • Wrestling
  • Soccer
  • Field Hockey

This is very detailed, specialized and expensive testing that involves a day or two with physicians, radiologists and neurologists.  The NCAA is covering all costs.

What is so unique about this settlement?

Most defendants spend years fighting their athletes in court.  The NCAA, however, has managed to find a way to deny wrongdoing, but still show concern for its athletes by having their individual claims evaluated. Note that the NCAA has also agreed that:

  • Student-athletes in all NCAA schools who are diagnosed with a concussion must be cleared by a physician before returning to play (and never on the same day as the injury).
  • Medical personnel trained in diagnosing, treating and managing concussions will be present during all games, and available to players during all practices.
  • Concussion treatment protocols will be established for all NCAA schools.

In addition, the settlement agreement includes education initiatives and $5 million that will be paid into a Medical Monitoring Fund and applied towards concussion research.

In this case, the NCAA is taking proactive steps to protect its athletes from future harm, while continuing to deny all allegations of wrongdoing.  Despite the free testing, athletes will still be required to sue the organization and its member schools for damages.  This will serve as precedent for all future concussion-related litigation.

Football players may benefit from both the NCAA and the NFL settlements

Note that football players may also be eligible for damages under the $765 million NFL settlement, which provides cash settlements for NFL former players, in addition to monitoring and medical treatment.

A settlement worth keeping your eye on

More than 1 million college students have played these contact sports and the number of head injuries is currently unknown.  Athletes are encouraged consult with an attorney experienced in class action lawsuits and traumatic brain injury to learn more about this settlement.

If you have any questions on this blog or need information on other personal injury queries, please call the Law offices of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath located in West Palm Beach at 1-800 4-RIGHTS  (1-800- 474-4487)  We welcome your call and look forward to helping you.