The NCAA has reached a preliminary settlement in a class action suit with victims of traumatic head injuries during college sports games. The lawsuit was brought against the organization by former college athletes who wanted the NCAA to institute significant reforms on its head-injury policies.
The settlement indicates a big change in the care and safety of both male and female college athletes in all sports and across all divisions. The settlement will not only apply to former athletes, but also current players and those that play in the future. This settlement issued a new national protocol on how to treat head injuries sustained by players during games and practices. Athletes will no longer be allowed to continue playing after a head injury until a full workup has been conducted, and the player has been declared concussion symptom-free.
Concussions will be taken more seriously by coaches and trainers. Medical personnel will be required to attend at all sporting events. Other precautions have been specifically laid out, and all college teams will be required to comply.
According to the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer, Steve Berman, the preliminary offer will be good for the players. “This offers college athletes another level of protection, which is vitally important to their health. Student-athletes – not just football players – have dropped out of school and suffered huge long-term symptoms because of brain injuries. Anything we can do to enhance concussion management is a very important day for student-athletes,” stated Berman.
Financial Compensation for Athletes That Suffer Head Injuries
The preliminary settlement also establishes a $70 million medical monitoring fund to treat injuries that occur during college sports competitions. This fund would give all former college athletes a chance to receive a neurological screening to examine brain function and get diagnostic support for any potential problems. It would also have doctors look for any signs of brain damage.
While this money would be a much-needed step in the right direction, many still say that this does not do enough to compensate athletes who receive brain damage, because the fund is only used for diagnostic purposes. If damage is found, victims will have to pay for treatment on their own.
The settlement does leave open the possibility to sue for damages in individual cases, but some lawyers worry that this will not be a realistic option. “It’s going to be tough to find a lawyer to fight against the NCAA’s machinery when you’re talking about only $20,000 in damages. This is going to snuff out the vast majority of claims,” says Jay Edelson, a lawyer involved in the suit representing one of the plaintiffs.
Still, the majority of people are cautiously optimistic that this settlement will make significant strides towards protecting athletes, as was the original goal of the class action. All that is left now is to wait and see what the final settlement offer will contain.