Sanders Criticizes Head Injury Lawsuits After Filing His Own Claim
During the pre-game show for the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, NFL Hall-of-Famer and current NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders spoke out on the issue of the recent slew of head injury lawsuits filed by current and retired NFL players and their families, including a major class action lawsuit on behalf of nearly 4,000 plaintiffs. Professional football is, according to Sanders, a "safe game." He went on to say: "I don't buy all these guys coming back with these concussions. I'm not buying all that. Half these guys are trying to make money off the deal." Harsh criticism from the former superstar, but he speaks from a position of authority. His own playing career spanned from 1989 to 2005, and he has for many years served as a commentator, analyzing the game for the rest of us on national television.
Deion Sanders may have come out with a strident attack against the trend of suing the NFL for head injuries, but the fact is that he has actually filed his own claim for head trauma. As reported in the Los Angeles Times last week, Mr. Sanders filed a
workers' compensation claim based on allegations that he suffered from head trauma while playing as a cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys. After being examined by four medical doctors, he was diagnosed with a laundry list of conditions including cognitive impairment, arousal disorder, behavioral/emotional disorder and arthritis. All told, he was assigned a disability rating of 86%, a figure that opens the door for him to receive a considerable amount in permanent disability benefits. Mr. Sanders has not yet received a decision in the case, and the claim is still pending.
NFL Facing Potential Loss of More than $1.5 Billion for Head Injury Claims
In his remarks prior to the Super Bowl, Mr. Sanders was speaking out against the civil lawsuits which have been filed against the NFL for head injury victims and their families, who claim that they were not adequately warned of the risks of brain injury in professional football. More recently, the league did agree to pay a settlement in the class action lawsuit involving nearly 4,000 plaintiffs. Under the terms of the settlement, the NFL will be paying $765 million to the plaintiffs. This most recent case is the culmination of a trend over the past several years, when head injury claims against the NFL have skyrocketed, as can be seen in a
telling graph featured in another report from the
Los Angeles Times. On top of the recent settlement, it is estimated that there are an additional 4,000 workers' comp claims – including the one filed by Deion Sanders – which could cost the NFL as much as $1 billion in the near future. Why would Mr. Sanders be such a vocal critic of his colleagues who have taken similar actions to his own in claiming compensation for their brain injuries?
New Laws Could Block Workers' Comp Claims for Pro Athletes in California
The California legislature is currently considering a law that would bar thousands of professional athletes from filing for workers compensation by excluding players who were not on teams in this state. If passed, the new law could save the NFL and other pro sports leagues massive amounts of money, and they therefore can be seen as interested parties to the situation. In fact, the NFL and other leagues have been vigorously lobbying for the legislation in Sacramento, arguing that it is necessary to prevent massive claims that could raise the premiums for other employers who need workers' compensation insurance. Factually, this concern is unfounded, since workers' comp insurance premiums are determined based on the industry of the insured. A restaurant, for example, would not be expected to pay the same premiums as would the San Francisco 49ers.
The leagues have a great deal at stake and a massive incentive to see to it that the legislation is passed, and they are doing everything they can to sway public opinion in their favor. Given that Mr. Sanders is an analyst on the NFL Network, which is owned by the NFL, it should not be at all surprising to see him promoting views in favor of his employer, even if he is himself part of the group he is attacking. Most workers' compensation claims in California do not involve professional athletes, but many of them do fall under similar scrutiny, and workers from all walks of life frequently face considerable opposition from their employers and the insurance company in their pursuit of benefits. If you or a loved one needs workers' compensation benefits, contact the Law Office of Adam Sorrells now for a
free case evaluation with our Chico personal injury attorney.