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Insurers act to insulate themselves against TBI lawsuits

Many Missouri residents follow high school and college football passionately, but a growing body of scientific evidence has linked playing the game with debilitating brain diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The National Football League has agreed to pay up to $1 billion to 20,000 former players to settle a class action lawsuit related to brain injuries, and many legal experts believe that a court could actually increase the maximum payout that each player can receive.

Settlements of this magnitude raise a lot of eyebrows, and the world's leading insurance companies are taking steps to protect themselves from the kind of exposure they faced when asbestos was definitively linked to deadly diseases like lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and malignant mesothelioma. This discovery prompted a flood of litigation, and insurers were forced to pay compensation to thousands of plaintiffs who had sometimes been exposed to the fire-resistant substance years or even decades earlier.

The huge number of people who played contact sports in high school or college and may have suffered brain damage as a result has prompted fears of a similar wave of lawsuits, and a Standard & Poor's report reveals that many insurers have started adding exclusion clauses to some general liability policies to limit their exposure. Some insurers are placing caps on the amount of compensation that can be paid in concussion-related lawsuits while others are refusing to provide coverage altogether unless strict conditions are met.

The damages awarded in lawsuits featuring plaintiffs who have suffered a serious brain injury can be significant, and the defendants in these cases or their insurance companies may seek a quick settlement to avoid the uncertainties and costs of a protracted legal battle. Estimating the full impact of these injuries can be difficult for doctors, and personal injury attorneys may consult with neurological experts and physical therapists to help ensure that any settlement agreement entered into will provide their clients with the resources they need.

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