A wave of lawsuits has just hit the NCAA, college sports’ main governing body. More than 300 lawsuits have been filed in the past three years. All of them claim that former football players are suffering serious adverse health consequences from untreated or mistreated concussions they suffered during play.
One case has already resulted in a $75-million settlement. In that case, affected players received only $5,000 each, but the NCAA agreed to spend $70 million monitoring the medical conditions of the players involved and another $5 million toward medical research.
It also came with an agreement that no class-action personal injury lawsuits could be brought against the NCAA. Only individual lawsuits on a per-school basis would be allowed. The plaintiffs have fought against that settlement being approved by the court.
Players suffering serious conditions that could be tied to concussions
As you may know, there is a medical condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that comes from repeat concussions. CTE may cause a variety of symptoms, including confusion, emotional issues and physical effects. CTE was the reason behind the billion-dollar settlement the NFL signed with former players last year.
In the cases against the NCAA, the plaintiffs claim that either mistreated concussions or CTE caused conditions such as headaches, depression, early-onset Parkinson’s disease and even Alzheimer’s. In order to be successful, the plaintiffs will need to show that it is more likely than not that their concussion treatment during college was responsible for these conditions developing.
Was the NCAA, the conference, the college or the coach responsible?
The plaintiffs have another barrier to overcome: the legal duty test. In order to hold the NCAA responsible for the injuries, they have to prove that the organization had a legal duty toward the players that it breached. The same goes for any other parties the plaintiffs sue — their college conference, their college or university, or the coaches and medical staff.
State colleges and universities may be immune from lawsuits, although private colleges typically are not.
In 2010, the NCAA issued a concussion protocol that it required its members to follow. That, for example, may have created a legal duty on the part of the NCAA to ensure that member colleges and universities were providing adequate concussion treatment to players. There may be other theories of liability, too.
The NCAA has called many of these lawsuits “copycat complaints” and said they are “full of misleading and inaccurate declarations.”
If you or a loved one has suffered a sports-related injury such as CTE, you could have a compensation claim. It is important to have your case evaluated by an experienced personal injury attorney.