Ronan O'Beirne
Magazine Archives
Testing Liability for Concussions | Canadian Insurance

Testing Liability for Concussions

A slate of class-action suits is pitting players -- and insurers -- against sports leagues

The lawyers for the major leagues sure have been busy. The past three years have seen a raft of class action suits against sports’ head-office honchos, especially over how they’ve handled concussions.

Football: Last year, the NFL settled a class action suit with thousands of former players who claimed the league had knowingly withheld information about the long-term effects of repeated blows to the head. Earlier this year, the league faced a second action from a group of more than 700 former players who say the league routinely doled out painkillers to them, which had serious long- term effects on their health. TIG Insurance has asked a judge to clear it of its duty to defend the NFL, claiming that the league “expected or intended” the injuries.

Hockey: Following in the NFL’s footsteps, the NHL is now staring down two class action suits over concussions. The plaintiffs—former players, all—claim the league knew more than it let on about head injuries, and didn’t do enough to prevent and monitor them.

Soccer: The international governing body, FIFA, has long been criticized for its concussion protocols—and now the fight has moved into the courts. Earlier this year, a group of players and their parents filed suit against FIFA and some American organizations, claiming they hadn’t done enough to monitor head injuries.

College sports: In June, the NCAA announced that it would settle several class action lawsuits for $70 million. The money is set aside for a “medical monitoring fund,” and the association agreed to revamp its concussion protocols.

Copyright 2014 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the October 2014 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine