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Concussion settlement moves forward

The settlement between the National Football League and its former players took another step forward after a federal judge gave it her preliminary approval. The class-action lawsuit consolidated the 240 civil lawsuits that had been pending. The case gained momentum after the $675-million damage cap was removed. The settlement money will be used to cover the medical expenses, including evaluations and testing, for players affected by head injuries.

In recent years, the long-term effects of the multiple concussions and other brain injuries that NFL players often experience have garnered great media attention as more and more players have come forward to report that they are dealing with ongoing issues even years after leaving the field. According to the terms of the settlement, a player must have a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, ALS or Parkinson's Disease to qualify. Families of players who have died as a result of their injuries may also qualify.

The settlement provides benefits to qualified players, representatives and family members for the next 65 years. Those involved with the settlement are hopeful that it will help players get diagnosed and treated more quickly without having to go through time-consuming litigation. The settlement also includes provisions to establish a $10 million to support safety and injury prevention programs. A fairness hearing for the settlement was scheduled for Nov. 19, and it is possible that it will be granted final approval at that time.

While this lawsuit is specific to NFL players, it has raised awareness across the country of the prevalence of sports injuries. Those who have suffered injuries while participating in sports at any level may be able to file suit seeking damages for medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. Learning more about the legal options can be a first step.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Federal judge grants preliminary approval of NFL concussion settlement" Jul. 09, 2014

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