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Former Players, NFL Reach Settlement in Head Injury Lawsuits

A settlement has been reached between former NFL players and the National Football League over allegations that the NFL had not disclosed the dangers of multiple and frequent head injuries to players. The proposed settlement, totaling $765 million covers some 4,500 former players suing the league over head injuries. The settlement breaks down to $170,000, on average, per player.

Under the agreement, the NFL will contribute $765 million to provide injury compensation and medical benefits for retired NFL players. The settlement amount will also fund medical and safety research and will cover litigation expenses.

The litigation in the NFL over head injuries starting in August 2011 when seven former football players filed a lawsuit against the NFL claiming that the NFL had not adequately warned players about the consequences of sustaining multiple head injuries during the span of their playing careers. From its inception, the lawsuit grew to include more than 4,500 former NFL players with hundreds of Complaints that the former players gave their bodies up in return for the market value of their services.

Many of the players who joined in the lawsuits against the NFL claimed that the head trauma they sustained over the course of their football careers caused debilitating effects, including, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, anxiety, and severe depression. In fact, six of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits actually passed away this year, alone, and according to a review by the Washington Times, at least 59 of the former players have died, causing some of the lawsuits to be filed as wrongful death suits. Interestingly, when examining the cause of death of these players, the Times found that fifteen died from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's; eight had heart attacks; four had cancer; and thirteen died from unspecified "long illnesses." The high death rate from neurodegenerative diseases are of interest especially considering the findings of from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that NFL veterans with five years or more of experience are four times as likely to die of a neurodegenerative disease as the general population.

While the NFL litigation may be coming to an end, pending approval by a federal judge, the struggle over head injuries endures. These lawsuits have brought to the mainstream the importance and significance of head trauma. From the NFL down to midget league football, it is imperative that coaches, players, and loved ones, recognize the risks of head injuries and that equipment be utilized to better protect players from head injuries.

Head injuries, ranging from a concussion, to sustained trauma, can cause severe impairments in individuals. A head injury can cause multiple problems ranging from depression, anxiety, and fatigue, to severe cognitive deficits to the development of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

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