NFL Players Have Until August 7 To Register Concussion Claims

Hines Ward sits on the bench after suffering a concussion during the game against the New England Patriots on November 14, 2010.

August 7, 2017 should have some notation on every former National Football League player’s calendar. It is the final day for players to register for the NFL concussion settlement program in order to potentially receive benefits based on head trauma experienced during their careers in the NFL that may have or could result in brain injuries.

Current NFL players and those who retired on or after July 7, 2014 are excluded from the registration process. All other former NFL players should, at a minimum, look into whether they find it advantageous to sign up to be included in the settlement class. After August 7, it could be exceedingly difficult to collect under the terms of the settlement, which became final and effective on January 7, 2017 and is expected to cost the NFL more than $1 billion.

“The settlement is open for sixty-five years; however, if a player develops symptoms in twenty years, for instance, and doesn’t register, he can’t collect under the settlement unless he can show good cause to the court,” explains lawyer Adam Slater, who says that he has been retained by approximately two hundred former NFL players.

“My understanding is that there are approximately between 10,000 to 15,000 individuals not registered,” adds Slater. “It would be a travesty for all these guys to go unregistered and not have a chance to recover.”

A former NFL player can register by himself or register through counsel. The registration is not overly complicated; however, the neuropsychological tests used to determine the amount of compensation that a former NFL player will receive, if any, is not as simple to understand.

“There are two different paths that a player can take — (1) BAP baseline assessment testing with private doctors approved by the NFL; or (2) MAF testing with private doctors also approved by the NFL,” says Slater. “We have a system where we’re going to give our players a preliminary assessment. Based on that assessment, they’re going to the MAF program.”

There is apparently a big distinction between the two types of assessment testing programs, according to lawyer John Baldante, who concentrates his practice on brain and spinal cord injury cases.

“The big difference between the two programs is because the BAP program is funded directly by the NFL, there are certain fee restrictions imposed upon the doctors so that if you do a neuropsychological test through the BAP program, there’s a very detailed fee schedule with a maximum fee,” explains Baldante. “If you were to go to a neuropsychological under the independent MAF program, you still have to have the same qualifications as a BAP doctor, but you’re allowed to charge your customary hourly rate.”

The NFL’s assumption is that there will be many more players who opt for the BAP program, because the cost of testing is paid for by the NFL. Based on same, the NFL is requiring doctors to agree to a smaller fee schedule.

The MAF program is paid by players and the cost is largely being fronted by law firms representing those players.

“The cost of the MAF program varies based on the doctors and where they’re situated in the country,” says Baldante. “A doctor in San Francisco or New York tends to charge a higher hourly rate than a doctor in Atlanta or Tennessee for instance.”

It is common sense that if lawyers are willing to front the money on costs, they envision an outcome that yields a profit. These lawyers are not taking on former NFL player clients out of the kindness of their hearts. On occasion, the pursuit of players has become so ruthless that the details have been exposed by those who claim to have been harmed.

Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN reported in March that “a virtual cottage industry of opportunist lawyers . . . has cropped up.” The judge assigned to the grouping of NFL concussion cases and overseeing the settlement has been asked to punish certain attorneys for using “false and misleading” tactics in an effort to secure former NFL player clientele.

But some lawyers with real experience in extracting as much money as possible in these types of medical-related class action suits ending in settlement could be advantageous for former players who are not clear on what puts them in the best situation to recover as much money as possible.

“Part of what makes a good lawyer in these kinds of circumstances is knowledge about the medicine . . . the nuances involved in the medicine of these types of injuries, and how to protect your client best,” says Baldante. “Don’t underestimate the logistics necessary in coordinating all of this on a national scale.”

Baldante also recognizes that there are many lawyers who have been salivating since the announcement of the approximately $1 billion settlement and will go to vast lengths to secure clientele for a piece of the pie.

“We know there are some lawyers out there who are trying to give bargain basement rates to attract players,” acknowledges Baldante. “There’s a little bit of a danger to that, because for many of these players their interest will be served by undergoing expensive medical assessments and testing both with neurologists. Lawyers offering ‘cut rates’ have an economic disincentive to take care of these players and work up their injuries in the proper manner. Those players might simply be dumped into the BAP program, because it’s economically cheaper for the lawyers to do that.”

Thus, players are presented with important decisions to make in the months of June and July. First of all, do they register to become part of the class that will seek payments under the settlement? Second of all, do they choose to enroll on their own or with the assistance of an attorney who will assist in potentially providing sound advice with regard to medicals and cover many of the costs, but also take a commission on monies recovered?

“This is a unique situation in which there’s a class action settlement where players have different paths to approach discovery,” says Martin Rubenstein, another lawyer working with former NFL players in recovering under the settlement. “We will seek a fee based upon and commensurate with the work we do to get the recovery. Certain players, once they have gone through the screening, we’re going to recommend to them that they simply go through the BAP. It will be a lower fee than if we make a recommendation that they go through MAF testing, which will involve more work, time and expense.”

Rubenstein says that a number of the players who have asked him to represent them were referred by other law firms. In those cases, he has accepted the players initially at the fee rate that the players had in place with those lawyers, which range from roughly 20% to 33% of recovery. That amount could be decreased, and Rubenstein says that he would never increase the fee.

Ultimately, players have some tough decisions to make and time is of the essence.

“Make sure you register. If not for you, then for your family,” concludes Slater. “Even if you don’t think you’re impaired now, you may be in the future.”

Darren Heitner the Founder of South Florida-based HEITNER LEGAL, P.L.L.C. and Sports Agent Blog. He authored the book, How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know.

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$3.1 Million Settlement for Man Severely Injured by Truck Boom, Hydraulics and Cradle

Levy Baldante Finney & Rubenstein shareholders, John W. Baldante and Martin G. Rubenstein, obtained a confidential $3.1 million dollar settlement in a personal injury action on behalf of a 35-year-old married father of four who was operating his minivan with his wife-passenger when a cinder-block transporting truck’s negligently elevated boom snagged a telephone wire cable, causing a telephone pole to snap, soar through the air, and penetrate the Plaintiff’s front windshield. The wooden utility pole entered the minivan’s driver/passenger compartment, violently shattering Plaintiff’s face, causing traumatic brain injury, a fractured skull, a fractured right eye orbit, and complete loss of vision in the right eye, along with additional catastrophic injuries.  Discovery established that the operator of cinder-block hauling truck negligently failed to secure the elevated boom before traveling. In addition, the truck’s boom, hydraulics, and cradle had been inadequately maintained in the year leading up to the incident.  The settlement represented the entirety of the liability and excess insurance coverage on behalf of the defendant cinder-block hauling truck company as well as contribution from the entity who maintained the truck’s boom, hydraulics and cradle.

$1.5 Million Emergency Medical Malpractice

Plaintiff was a young man in his early 20’s who was brought to an emergency room with a fractured pelvis following a car accident. Despite evidence of frank blood while inserting a Foley catheter, the defendant physician negligently proceeded to inflate the Foley balloon causing a tear\rupture of the ureter and resulting in erectile dysfunction.

$2.5 Million Ophthalmologic Medical Malpractice Cancer Settlement

Wrongful Death case involving the failure of the defendant physician to diagnose a red reflect on an eye examination of a 2 year old child, and timely refer the child to a ophthalmologic surgical specialist. By the time this young child was eventually diagnosed, treatment for his retinoblastoma eye cancer had been delayed and proved unsuccessful. The lawsuit litigated in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas resulted in a $2.5 Million settlement.

Can Car-to-Car Communication Technology Prevent Personal Injury Accidents

According to recent reports, research into the car-to-car communication, which has been ongoing for about a decade, is finally close to an end for the federal government.

The report shows that U.S. auto safety regulators may finally unveil a plan to ensure that the technology is made available to drivers across the country, making roads much safer for everyone involved.

Experts have indicated that after a decade of research, regulators have finally come together to reveal the plan that would make vehicles be required to use wireless gear, increasing safety by ensuring that vehicles communicate with one another so that drivers are aware of road conditions ahead, making drivers more alert when it comes to possible danger.

Once regulators put the proposal forward, the vehicle-to-vehicle transmitters and the proper software that makes the technology possible would not be cheap to add to vehicles, which could increase the car’s price anywhere from $341 to $350 by 2020. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, that’s what the system would cost automakers to add the technology to each of their newer vehicles.

Whether the expenses might seem somewhat of a burden to automakers at first, experts believe that the benefits, which will all translate into safer roads, will outweigh the cost. The technology would offer vehicle owners the opportunity to be aware of what is going on ahead so that accidents can be prevented, then boosting safety for drivers, their passengers and pedestrians.

The V2V technology, which is how the car-to-car communication tool is called, would warn drivers of possible risks if they do not have enough time to perform a left turn ahead. Alerts urging the driver to stop would be put in place once a vehicle is about to blow a red light, and drivers would be warned if there’s a crashed or stopped vehicle around the curve ahead, making drivers more likely to have enough time to prevent accidents. According to experts, once the technology is required to be part of all vehicles, 25,000 to 592,000 crashes could be prevented annually. Up to 1,083 lives could also be saved annually once the technology is widely used.

The federal agency NHTSA indicated that new rules would have to be put in place to make sure that the V2V equipment is added to newer vehicles. Other safety features would not be mandated if the technology is added.

At least eight of the most popular auto brands have been working on their own V2V technologies such as Ford, Honda, Hyundai, General Motors, Daimler, Nissan, Volkswagen, and Toyota. While the cost is high, automakers have been embracing the technology and making sure they develop working versions of these features to ensure the communication tool can be shared by all.

Personal injury accidents may soon be prevented with at a much more successful rate if this technology is used widely by United States drivers. If you’re curious to know more, follow this link for the full article.


Power Cords Affected by Recent Hewlett-Packard Recall

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a series of power cords that have been sold to consumers with Hewlett-Packard and Compaq notebooks, were linked to incidents that have concerned the manufacturer, leading to a recall.

The official report released recently by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has indicated that the AC power cords could overheat while in use, increasing the risk of a possible burn hazard to users. The federal agency announced that fire risks linked to the product have also been noted.

The official recall report indicates that 5,577,000 units of power cords affected by this particular recall have been recalled here in the United States. At least 446,700 were recalled in Canada.

Affected units come with a “LS-15” molded mark which can be found on the power cord’s AC adapter. The recall was deemed necessary after the company learned that 29 reports of incidents have been announced, including 13 reports of incidents that did result in some property damage. Two of the reports were also associated with minor burns. In all cases, the power cords overheated and even melted.

Consumers are urged to stop using their power cords as soon as possible. Unplug the device and contact the manufacturer if you believe you were affected so the company will obtain your details. A free replacement cord should be sent your way if you were affected.

Affected units were sold nationwide at electronics stores, online and authorized dealers across the country between September 2010 and June 2012.

You may click here to read the full recall announcement. Personal injury related to consumer products should not be ignored. Act fast if you have one of the recalled power cords.

Opponents of Medical Malpractice Initiative Take Their Fury to TV, Radio

According to a series of news reports, opponents of a medical malpractice initiative are using radio and TV ads to fight the initiative and keep Californians from voting for it.

The reports indicate that, if the initiative passes, doctors would be drug-tested, which would require hospitals to perform those tests randomly. According to opponents, however, this requirement would increase the cap on damage in medical malpractice cases. Whether opponents are happy or not, many supporters believe that the initiative would keep doctors from taking part in medical error cases, increasing patient safety.

The ads focus on how much money medical malpractice cases would be worth with the implementation of these new requirements, but none of them focus on the importance of ensuring doctors are not going to be handling patients while intoxicated. Supporters of the initiative believe the ads are deceptive. Whether deceptive or not, many of those who are dedicated to ensuring the debate continues flowing want proponents and opposition to debate the specifics of the initiative so that the public may find for themselves what they believe to be the priority.

Patient safety should always be the priority to doctors and hospital staffs. Whether you’re a patient or a doctor, it’s important to understand that solutions to medical errors must be found and adopted promptly. Avoid being the victim of medical errors by making sure that you put pressure on your local government and representatives so that local hospitals change the processes so that medical error cases can be identified and avoided in time.

While this initiative is being voted for in California, hospitals could focus on their own finding solutions to the medical error problem on their own. The more staffs work to avoid medical mistakes, the safer patients are.

If you’re interested in learning more about the debate that is going on in regards to the medical malpractice initiative in California, follow this link to read the full article.

CPSC Announces Recall Linked to StoveTop Microhood Fire Suppressors

A release published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has indicated that StoveTop FireStop Microhood fire suppressors are being recalled after the company learned that the products may fall from their units, increasing risks associated with a failure to suppress the fire.

The official recall announcement indicates that 103,000 units of these fire suppressors may have been affected by this particular problem. While no incidents have been reported up to this moment, consumers are urged to check their StoveTop FireStop Microhood fire suppressors, which are flame activated, for the model numbers 677-2 if they are white, or 677-1 if they are black.

Replace date in these products go from June 2014 to August 2019.

Consumers with the products should contact the manufacturer WilliamsRDM in order to ask for a free inspection kit that would give the consumer instructions and tools that will help them to check if the units need repair.

The affected units were sold between June 2009 and August 2014. If you have been affected, do not hesitate to contact the company. The repair should be offered for free. For reports on incidents linked to this recall, contact the CPSC.

You can read the official announcement published by the CPSC by following this link. Act promptly.


Study on the MMR Vaccine And Its Link to Autism May Have Been Manipulated

It might be still a bit early to know the truth behind these reports, nevertheless, recent discoveries may force experts to question how certain federal agents handled the investigation into certain vaccines.

According to recent reports published by news organizations, a top researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may have kept an important information concerning the MMR vaccine from the public, which is now being disclosed thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request put forward by a doctor who interested in a study that may have demonstrated the link between autism and the vaccine. The request was associated with data on a study carried out by the agency on autism.

The whistleblower has reportedly indicated that the scientific data, which was in the hands of researchers act the CDC may have been kept secret over its results. The whistleblower has made the case that the link between the MMR vaccine and later autism diagnosis among African American males may have been manipulated by the agency.

According to the documents made available through the FOIA request examined data from 2003. The results show that then, autism had increased 340% among African American boys who had been exposed to the MMR vaccine, which happened to be discovered then. The reports show that the the facts were kept hidden by pressure that researchers may have allegedly suffered from more senior CDC officials.

The data may suggest that the results required the entire removal of the particular population from the results of the study so that the link was kept under wraps.

According to the reports, the CDC was actively aware of the link between MMR vaccination and the incidence of autism in African American boys. Some believe that this could also explain why the agency is so slow to investigate how autism is linked to other vaccines and other medication. At least other nine studies carried out or cited by the agency as evidence that multiple vaccines have been linked to autism.

The study in question was published by the Journal of Pediatrics in 2004. At this point, many experts are calling for further studies in order to determine whether the original data can be trusted, especially after the FOIA request was put forward and further details were disclosed.

If you would like to learn more about this story, which is still developing, follow this link.

Stay tuned for more news on this and other similar cases.