The New York Times did a story this week on several issues that haven’t received any attention since ex-NFL players filed a deluge of lawsuits over their concussions: What liability insurers will have in this litigation, and whether or not it will result in premiums skyrocketing for other sports, even those for high school and college teams.
The National Football league has already racked up millions of dollars in legal fees defending itself against the pending lawsuits, which accuse it of hiding the potential l0ng-term impact of concussions from players. What’s going to have to be hashed out is whether insurers will be required to pay part of those bills and how much; and what portion of damages, if any, will they be responsible for if the ex-players win in court, according to The Times.
The story also suggests that the NFL lawsuits may prompt insurance companies to tighten up their coverage, perhaps mandating that high school and college players agree to waive their rights to sue, putting limits on damages or jacking up the price of premiums, The Times reported. Insurers could even refuse to cover head injuries such as concussions.
It’s the NFL’s position that the insurers are obligated to pay for the defense against the suits, and that the only issue is how much each insurance company should be responsible for. Needless to say, there are 32 insurers who disagree with the NFL’s position, with their own arguments.
For example, The Times said, some insurers claim their policies were only meant to cover legal disputes like arguments over licensing agreements, while others maintain they are only liable to pay out on the first $1 million of claims.
Then there will be a squabble over how much the “excess” insurers, those who are liable for damages and costs over what the primary insurer covers, will be responsible for.
In any event, as The Times carefully lays out, the pending concussion suits open up a hornet’s nest of legal questions that may have ramifications across all kinds of professional and youth sports, not just the NFL.