Recently retired football player Eric Shelton filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the National Football League, claiming the league's disability plan failed to properly compensate him for a spinal injury, The New York Times reported.
The former running back last played as a regular for the Carolina Panthers in 2006. He suffered a neck injury after a helmet-to-helmet collision during a 2008 Washington Redskins training camp and was awarded benefits for "degenerative" impairments.
Eric Shelton claims he should have been awarded the maximum benefit, set aside for more serious injuries that cause immediate, permanent injury. If he wins his case, the NFL could become liable for brain and spine injuries sustained by players before the league began acknowledging the neurological risks of helmet-to-helmet contact.
Injury lawsuits often involve medical insurers or disability plan administrators since they're the ones that typically dole out the money, most Atlanta injury lawyers would tell you.
Up until fairly recently, the NFL downplayed and even disputed the neurological risks of the game. Cy Smith, the attorney representing Eric Shelton, said it's not enough to simply change course by putting out public service announcements and levying fines for helmet-to-helmet hits during games.
He said the disability plan needs to provide more coverage for injuries related to these hits, even those that happened years ago or during practice:
"The plan's position that this must be degenerative is in sharp contrast to how dangerous these hits are. The mechanism of injury here is what they've said 1,000 times is the most dangerous."
Douglas Ell, the lead lawyer representing the disability plan (which is run by the NFL and the players' union), argued that Eric Shelton already is being fairly compensated for his injury:
"The lawsuit requests that Mr. Shelton be placed in the highest category, which in part applies where a player is unable to work immediately following his NFL career."
Eric Shelton, he claims, worked at a pharmaceutical company after his NFL retirement until 2009.
Speak with an Atlanta accident attorney if you have any questions about liability pertaining to sports injuries.
- Your Legal Options Following a Traumatic Brain Injury (FindLaw KnowledgeBase)
- Browse Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers (FindLaw)
- Football's 'Big Hits': A Lawsuit in the Making? (FindLaw Tarnished Twenty Blog)