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Lawsuit: NFL Wrongly Withheld Disability Benefits From Ex-Player

Today's workers' compensation defense post will take a closer look at a very interesting lawsuit filed by a former National Football League (NFL) player earlier this week seeking benefits withheld from the league's disability plan.

What makes this particular case so interesting is that it involves benefits being withheld for injuries sustained from a helmet-to-helmet collision, the very type of tackle that the NFL has recently vowed to outlaw from the playing field altogether due to the risk of serious injury. In fact, players can now be fined or even suspended for helmet-to-helmet collisions.

Eric Shelton, a former running back on 2006 Carolina Panthers, was taking part in an intrasquad scrimmage at the Washington Redskins' 2008 training camp, when he was struck by another player in a helmet-to-helmet collision.

Shelton's compliant - filed in the United States District Court in Maryland on Monday - alleges that after the helmet-to-helmet collision, he lost the feeling in his arms and legs for roughly one minute. He also all alleges that he suffered a loss of feeling in his legs the following day and has since endured various debilitating, recurring symptoms (i.e., migraines, fleeting numbness and other pain) that prevent him from working.

Following the injury sustained in the Redskins training camp, Shelton filed a claim seeking maximum benefits from the NFL's disability plan.

(Maximum benefits under the NFL disability plan are reserved for those players who endure a football-related injury that resulted in total and permanent disability within six months or 12 months.)

However, the disability panel, which is made up of three National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) representatives and three NFL representatives, rejected Shelton's claim for benefits. The reason? They claimed his injury was unrelated to football.

Upon appeal, this initial rejection was reversed and Shelton was awarded benefits for a "degenerative" injury, meaning one that becomes apparent more than six months or 12 months after a football-related injury.

To be continued ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or medical advice.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense ...

Related Resources:

Ex-Player Is Suing Over Pay for Injury (The New York Times)

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