PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal judge in Philadelphia will live-stream a hearing Wednesday in the NFL concussion case so retired players can learn what’s ahead as the estimated $1 billion settlement rolls out this year.
The NFL this week is moving the first $65 million in payments into trust funds that cover injury claims, baseline testing and education. The league must then pay another $120 million into the injury fund over the next six months.
The 65-year settlement program covers players who retired from the league by Jan. 7, 2014. The awards could reach $5 million for younger men with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, but the average payment is expected to be about $190,000 for men with Alzheimer’s disease or moderate dementia.
Participants must register for the settlement by Aug. 7, or “they’ll never be eligible for benefits,” said Christopher Seeger, a lead players’ lawyer on the case. He expects it to take several years to test all 22,000 retired players, presuming they all sign up.
“One year from now, I expect to have a lot of money transferred from the NFL to, unfortunately, a lot of sick former NFL players,” Seeger told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Men already diagnosed with a covered neurological problem could get their awards in the next few months, he said. Meanwhile, the settlement committee is setting up a network of doctors around the country to conduct testing.
The awards cover ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and deaths involving chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The awards will vary based on a person’s diagnosis, age and time in the NFL.
The NFL has estimated that nearly three in 10 former players could develop Alzheimer’s disease or moderate dementia. There are no awards for depression, mood disorders or, at least for now, future CTE diagnoses. However, Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody has ordered the parties to revisit the settlement as the science on CTE advances.
The settlement resolves thousands of lawsuits that accuse the NFL of hiding what it knew about the risks of repeated concussions in order to return players to the field.
Some former players appealed the settlement over the exclusion of future CTE cases and depression, but the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. About 160 others have opted out and will pursue individual lawsuits.
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