Posted on April 9, 2010 · Posted in Brain Injury

Now here are two attorneys who can really relate to their clients.

Two former pro-football-players turned lawyers are now representing roughly 1,000 ex-players in what could be landmark worker’s compensation cases in California, according to The New York Times.

Ron Mix in the 1960s was with the San Diego Chargers, and was a Hall of Fame lineman. Mel Owens in the 1980s was a linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams. Now both men are lawyers. They are representing retired National Football League players who have developed early-onset dementia at much higher rates than the general population.

Their clients – who have won roughly more than $100 million in awards — are their contemporaries, and peers.

The story about Mix and Owens is the third by Times sports writer Alan Schwartz on how ex-players are filing workman’s comp claims in California to seek compensation for some of the illnesses, like Alzheimer’s disease, that they have developed.

In the first story, Schwartz said these workman’s compensation cases more offer the first determination on whether the NFL can be held liable for dementia linked to brain injuries while playing  football, as they have been held liable for bone and muscle injuries. California is the sole jurisdiction that lets long-retired players file for workman’s compensation even if they only played one game in the state.

The story raises the issue of whether it is wise for Mix and Owens’ clients to take lump sum payments, or instead try to secure lifetime medical care for their long-term conditions, which are likely to deteriorate over time. The settlements are typically in the $60,000 to $100,000 range.

Some of the retired players interviewed did not seem to fully understand the workman’s compensation process, and how if they turned down a settlement they would be entitled to their case hard by an administrative law judge, not a jury.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447