NFL Concussion Settlement FAQ

In order to shed some light on NFL concussion settlements and hopefully clarify some issues you might be encountering, our team of Tampa injury lawyers have compiled a comprehensive list of some of the most frequently asked questions about NFL concussion settlement cases. Please review it to see if there are any questions you would like answered. Of course, if you still have questions or need an in-depth explanation, you are encouraged to schedule a free initial consultation with our law firm.

Who is eligible for compensation?

Who is eligible for compensation NFL concussion settlement

Former NFL players eligible for compensation in a class action settlement are called the "Settlement Class."

The settlement class for this settlement is:

  • Retired NFL players: Any football players who have retired from the NFL, AFL, NFL Europe League, NFL Europa League, or World League of American Football prior to July 7, 2014. Players who were part of the roster of these leagues who participated in pre-, regular, or post-season can also be part of this settlement class.
  • Derivative claimants: Spouses, children, and other family members who are eligible to sue on behalf of a deceased retired NFL player due to their relationship with the deceased allowable by state law.
  • Representative claimants: Any officially authorized representatives of incompetent, legally incapacitated, or deceased retired NFL players, such as estate administrators.

Two "subclasses" are also defined within the case statutes: Subclass 1 recognizes players who retired before July 7, 2014, who have not diagnosed with concussion-related injuries or conditions (but may be in the future). Subclass 2 are those players who have retired before July 7, 2014, who have already been diagnosed with listed conditions.

The concussion-related conditions that are noted in this settlement are:

  • ALS
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Level 1.5 Neurocognitive Impairment/early Dementia
  • Level 2 Neurocognitive Impairment/moderate Dementia
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)
  • Death

Please note here that current NFL players (or current players of any of the Member Clubs mentioned) are not included in this settlement class. Additionally, those former players who did retire before July 7, 2014, are eligible even if they are enrolled in the NFL Retirement Plan.

What is Level 1, 1.5, and 2 neurocognitive impairment?

What is Level 1, 1.5, and 2 neurocognitive impairment? graph

The NFL concussion settlement class action includes patients who suffer from several specific forms of mental illness or debilitation, as well as three general definitions of neurocognitive impairment: Levels 1, 1.5, and 2. These three levels are categorized by the evidence of a diagnosable or recordable decline in the brain’s functions related to critical thinking, learning new facts, recalling memories, maintaining focus, or any combination of these abilities.

How do I know if I medically qualify?

How do I know if I medically qualify? graph

At Smith & Stallworth, Attorneys at Law, we already have a network of qualified specialists in place to help you determine whether or not you medically qualify for this settlement. Our network sources include doctors, neurologists, neuro-psychologists, and other medical physicians.

This group of professionals can provide clear and compelling documentation of your cognitive condition and support your eligibility to receive compensation under this settlement. Evaluations conducted by our networked professionals are at no additional cost to our clients and are part of our comprehensive service and dedication to providing our clients with the best service possible.

Should I get a baseline examination from a doctor I do not know?

You may be contacted by a third-party to get a physical and cognitive examination after you opt into the NFL concussion settlement class action. This examination will likely be meant to study the extent of cognitive damage as compared to the age of the retired football player.

Baseline examinations like this might not be conducted by a doctor you know, or by a physician that is necessarily up-to-date on the NFL concussion settlement proceedings. Before you agree to any medical examination, speak with our attorneys. In many cases, it is better to work with our network of doctors and other medical professionals than to allow a third-party physician to manage your examination.

How will I receive benefits?

Receiving money as part of a class action settlement is a matter of registering before any applicable deadlines expire. All settlement classes must do this in order to be evaluated and recognized as eligible to submit a claim. Registration time will be limited and may vary from case to case.

The deadlines to submit a claim are as followed:

  • For all retired players (and representative claimants) who have been diagnosed by the settlement approval date (April 22, 2015), claims must be submitted no later than February 6, 2019, two years of the start of the registration period (February 6, 2017).
  • For all retired players (and representative claimants) who become diagnosed after the settlement approval date (April 22, 2015), claims must be submitted within two years of the date of the diagnosis.
  • Deadline extensions may be approved by a court following the submittal of evidence that suggests its necessity. No deadline may be extended beyond January 7, 2082.

If your claim is denied or if the determination of your compensation is not satisfactory, resubmissions and appeals will be possible. This is particularly important for former players whose medical conditions worsen over time and need to be reconsidered for financial relief.

What proof do I need to provide to get compensation?

A diagnosis from our network of medical professionals should serve as ample evidence that you have suffered a brain injury of some sort while playing football. Additional proof might only be requested if it is not clear that you had played football professionally for the NFL.

This could be linked to incomplete records or clerical discrepancies. As experienced Tampa injury lawyers, we have managed numerous cases where simple evidence was called into question and we managed to reestablish the connection through our investigations.

I was already diagnosed as having a cognitive injury – is there a new time limit on my case?

Once you have been diagnosed as having a neurocognitive dysfunction related to your time spent as a football player, you may only have two years to file your petition to join the NFL concussion settlement class action. You should not hesitate to contact our firm as soon as your physician diagnoses a qualifying brain injury or debilitation. If you allow your networked group of medical professionals to perform evaluations and our team to handle your claim, you can leave most of the work to us.

In all personal injury claims, it is always difficult to predict just how much a plaintiff will receive, even in a controlled class action environment. However, there are maximum award caps in place in the NFL concussion settlement class action. The worse your cognitive damage, the higher your award cap. The lowest award cap is set at $1.5 million for those diagnosed with Level 1.5 neurocognitive impairment or early dementia. The highest award cap is set at $5 million for those diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Damage caps will be reviewed each year and may increase due to inflation and cannot decrease. It is not known if claimants with multiple qualifying cognitive disabilities will be eligible to receive combined award amounts that exceeds the cap.

What factors can actually lessen the award I would have received?

What factors can actually lessen the award I would have received? graph

Retired NFL players that are eligible for compensation will experience fluctuations in compensation given depending on several factors. Players who participated actively in 5 seasons or more will not experience any reduction in compensation, but those who participated in 4.5 seasons or less will.

The lowest reduction amount is 10% and the greatest reduction amount is 97.5%, which is reserved for retired NFL players who participated in less than half a season. Class action awards can also be reduced up to 75% per class member depending on the number of strokes or other cognitive issues that class member experienced before entering the NFL. An older class member with a qualifying condition will also receive less compensation than a young class member with the same qualifying condition; this is due to an assumption that an older individual will experience less debilitation due to a lesser predicted lifespan.

My loved one passed away and was an NFL player – can I receive the monetary award for them?

Representatives of the estates of deceased NFL players may be eligible to opt into the class action. It might be necessary for there to be preexisting medical evidence that the decedent had suffered some sort of brain trauma in their lifetime. Furthermore, the estate representatives of retired NFL players who passed away before January 1, 2006 may not be eligible for the class action but could potentially still have the legal ability to file a wrongful death claim.

Yes. Due to the nature of class actions, participating as a class member does not exclude you from filing for workers’ compensation for your disability suffered while on-the-job as a football player. You cannot, however, create your personal injury lawsuit against the NFL or any of the other aforementioned parties if you choose to opt into the class action. Be sure to speak to our Tampa workers’ compensation attorneys for more details if you believe you also deserve workers’ compensation benefits.


Can I be removed from the class action settlement?

Some retired NFL members with qualifying neurocognitive disorders may want to attempt to sue the NFL or other applicable parties and organizations in an individualized injury claim. Class members who have already voluntarily opted into the class might not be able to opt out. It depends on varying factors, each dependent on the individual case. Speak with our Tampa NFL concussion settlement attorneys to learn if you can opt out, as well as why you might want to choose this legal alternative.

I was denied compensation through the class action – am I out of options?

Many potential class members will experience an initial denial when attempting to opt into the NFL concussion settlement class action. Denial is not a permanent exclusion from class member status. If your medical condition changes and this change is recognized by a doctor’s diagnosis, you can attempt to rejoin the class action through a new petition. You may also attempt to appeal the denial if you believe if was unjust or based on erroneous judgement.

Does the NFL Concussion Settlement benefit any other groups?

Yes. At least $10 million have been allocated so far to promote youth education safety programs to try to prevent young footballers from suffering the same injuries. The same pool of funds will also be used to help retired NFL players to understand and utilized their medical coverage and rehabilitation options.

Do I need a lawyer to receive compensation?

It is expected during this process that all claimants will be represented by counsel. The courts have appointed a team of attorneys that will represent the settlement class free of charge—but who will receive a "set aside" percentage of the granted compensation to be determined at a later date.

At Smith & Stallworth, Attorneys at Law, our fees are always contingency based and set by an industry standard—not a "to be determined" percentage a team of lawyers decides they deserve. This is because we not only believe in thoroughly representing for our clients, but advocating for them—and that means making sure they are informed about their prospects and their potential compensation through every step of this daunting process.

Pay Nothing Unless We Recover Compensation Our firm works on a contingency fee basis. What this means is that we give you the opportunity to work with an aggressive and experienced attorney without paying any upfront fees for your case. In fact, you won't pay anything unless we successfully recover a settlement or judgment on your behalf. Our personal injury lawyers in Tampa, FL believe strongly that you have suffered enough. If you come to work with us, we won't treat you as just another case, but will instead work tirelessly to ensure that we are offering you personalized solutions that are best suited for your individual situation. You won't be treated as if you are being run through a legal machine, but instead will be given the attention that you deserve as a unique client.

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