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Football Players File Claims for Brain Damage

Posted by attorney Jon Gelman

Football, the sport of humans clashing heads together, is now subject to a growing wave of workers' compensation claims for dementia. Recent studies have shown that football players have suffered head injuries as a result of multiple concussions suffer chronic traumatic encephalitis (CTE). At recent discussion on Legal Talk Network reviewing this topic in depth, Christopher Nowinski, President and CEO of the Sports Legacy Institute and former Harvard football player, participated. He remarked that former football players have donated their brains for pathological research concerning CTE and its association with multiple concussions playing the sport. It has been alleged that CTE results in early dementia, early onset of Alzheimer's Disease and multiple other brain disorders. The average football player sustains over 1,000 concussions each game. Recently claims have been filed by several players against the National Football League in California. Massachusetts attorney, Alan S. Pierce, explains that that the statutory prohibitions make California a fertile jurisdiction for workers compensation claims. In additional to the medical causation issue, it is anticipated that players will be confronted with conflict of laws issues in selecting an appropriate jurisdiction(s) to insure a maximum recovery. As employment relationships become more geographically complex due to interstate and international relationships, the courts have been confronted with an ever-increasing problem as to what forum's law will apply to specific situations. In most instances, courts have adopted their local law as long as the site of the injury, or the site of the contract, or the site of the employment relationship was within their state. In certain instances, the court must go beyond those factors and assess whether another forum's law would provide the certainty of result which would occur in the their own state. The court looks towards fairness to the employee in selecting the choice of law to be applied. An overwhelming consideration is that public policy demands that the injured employee be cared for adequately within their jurisdiction. Additionally rates of compensation vary among the states as well as laws defining what constitutes an occupational exposure and the allocation of liability where multiple jurisdiction, employment and events occur. It is anticipated that these claims will increase and will proliferate in multiple-jurisdictions throughout the country. Since it it is impossible to avoid injuries in a sport designed for body contact sport, the courts and legislatures will be faced ultimately with public policy consideration concerning the sport and continuing to mandate workers' compensation benefits.

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