Athletes considering suing over a brain injury sustained in a contact sport may want to do so sooner rather than later. That's because insurers, spooked by the increase in litigation over sports-related head injuries, may be moving to make exclusions for professional athletes who sustain head injuries during play. The insurance company AIG, for example, has already excluded head injuries from its policies covering NFL players, and has entirely stopped insuring Pop Warner, a youth football league.
It's not just big sports leagues like the National Football League (NFL) or the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) who have found themselves in the crosshairs of such lawsuits. Helmet makers, schools and other sports groups could become targets, too, as injured athletes witness other players win big settlements.
Increased awareness about sports-related head injury coupled with uncertainty about the future of insurance coverage for sports-related concussions could have a chilling effect on the sport of football and other full-contact sports where head injuries occur. At the same time, if that chilling effect means that fewer players sustain serious and potentially life-changing injuries, this might not be a bad thing.
If you or a loved one is a professional athlete or participates in a sports league where head injury is a possibility, make sure to check your insurance policy. It's possible that your policy also contains an exclusion for head injuries. For more detailed information about your individual circumstance, talk to a personal injury lawyer who can explain your rights and present you with options for moving forward.