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Brain Injury Among Professional Athletes: Can They File a Total Permanent Disability Claim?

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Every time they step onto the court or field, professional athletes are at risk of head injury. One strong tackle or bad fall could lead to concussion or brain damage that might end their careers. Before they go pro, athletes are often advised to get disability insurance to protect their financial future.

A Look at Disability Insurance for Athletes

Total permanent disability insurance policies for professional athletes aren’t that different from those who work in other industries. Such policies cover the long-term financial needs of the athletes in the event they sustain injury or illness that prevents them from continuously engaging in their sport.

Getting claims for traumatic brain injury and other career-ending injuries, however, isn’t that easy. Some claims were denied by insurance carriers due to some reasons, including:

  • The athlete’s injury wasn’t the sole and direct cause of the disability;
  • The athlete failed to disclose a previous injury during the insurance application;
  • The athlete was unable to disclose vital medical information.

When presenting a claim or appealing to a denied claim, professional athletes who used to play in California are advised to hire a legal counsel in Los Angeles whose expertise covers disability insurance.

Making a Case: Disability Claim for Head Injury

Head injury claims may be complex and require a lawyer to conduct an extensive investigation, covering:

  • Medical Evaluation

Any injury to the head or neck region can cause the brain to bruise, swell, or tear, but the symptoms don’t always appear instantly, especially in closed-head injuries. The medical evaluation set by the team management and other relevant medical documents, as well as the brain injury expert testimony, could prove that the brain injury sustained by the athlete had solely and directly caused their disability.

  • Intimate Acquaintance Testimony

The testimony of close acquaintances of the injured athlete can be a valuable tool in disability claims involving a brain injury. Such injury may not come with apparent physical symptoms, but it can manifest in behavior changes that can be observed only by people who are closely related to or in constant contact with the athlete. Traumatic brain injury may lead to:

  • Personality changes
  • Mood swings
  • Attention deficit
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Memory loss

If there are people who could talk about how the athlete behaved before the injury compared with how they are now, their testimony could greatly help to build a brain injury case.

  • Policy Review

Many disability insurers have strict time limits for filing or giving notice of a claim. Failure to meet such deadlines could lead to a denial of benefits. It is crucial for the athlete to strictly follow the procedures outlined in the policy and report the injury accurately and entirely on the necessary forms.

Also, some disability insurance policies for athletes have a loss-of-value rider. Under the definition of total permanent disability, the policyholder must be unable to ever return to their sport to claim benefits. Now that medical technology and surgical techniques have improved to help athletes recover and play again, collecting total permanent disability benefits has become more difficult to reach. But if the earning potential of the athlete has reduced significantly because of brain injury, they may still get benefits through the loss-of-value provision of their policy, if there’s any.

If you’re a professional athlete who wants to build a strong disability claim involving brain injury, make sure to hire a lawyer. Otherwise, you may pass up substantial funds you’re entitled to receive.

Contact Haffner Law today for a brain injury claim consultation.

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