Professional Athletes’ Insurance Policies and the Long-term Effects of ConcussionsPosted August 10, 2016
A case filed in July by former Carolina Panther (NFL) Safety Haruki Nakamura brings to light the issues that some experience each year concerning filing injury claims, but professional athletes, in particular, have long been frustrated by. Nakamura claims that his insurance company subjected him to near-impossible procedures concerning his claim that he suffered a career-ending injury, all in order to introduce as many delays as possible in processing his claims, then ultimately denying it. He is now claiming $3 million in damages from the insurance company, Lloyd’s of London.
Not only is Nakamura asking that the court honor the $1 million insurance policy he was sold, but rather, also to set a precedent which prevents insurers from taking advantage of the insurance policies they sold to professional athletes, given the long-term effects of concussions and the evidence of permanent harm and disability associated with them.
A Disturbing Pattern
Nakamura experienced severe headaches, mood swings, fatigue, blurry vision, and other symptoms after being released from the team due to his concussion. Sadly, his case then got even murkier: while the insurance doctor concluded that he could still play professional football, the internationally renowned expert in sports-related concussions confirmed a diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome, labeling Nakamura “permanently disabled.”
Unfortunately, Nakamura isn’t alone; athletes have long been purchasing disability insurance to deal with injuries such as broken bones and torn ligaments, but there’s been a pattern of ex-NFL players having to convince insurers that severe head trauma is a very real, serious injury, even if it is not as physically obvious as, say, a broken bone.
Many are also wondering what comes next; will it be many more players filing brain injury claims, and/or insurers increasing policy costs, or excluding coverage of concussions altogether? Lloyd’s denied Nakamura’s claim in this instance supposedly because there was “clear evidence of post concussive and cognitive symptom exaggeration in the absence of significant emotional factors.”
Many have also pointed out that everyone involved has been aware of the risks football players face in terms of concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy for decades, thus there is no excuse for refusing to cover injuries related to concussions and degenerative brain disease.
When insurance companies deny claims like this one, they are not only violating the express promise of the policy (i.e. contract law), but they are also typically violating state law regarding unfair and deceptive practices.
Contact Our Oklahoma Attorneys
If you find yourself injured and your insurer is denying your claim, you may wish to consult an experienced attorney to discuss your options.
At our Oklahoma-based firm, we provided legal advice and representation to individuals who‘ve had their claims denied in bad faith for years. We can help. Contact us today by calling our Oklahoma offices at (405) 272-0303 for a free consultation.