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Head-Spinning Claims

What’s in your sports concussion claims playbook?

December 14, 2020 Photo

CLM’s Municipal Law Committee recently held a CE-approved webinar entitled, “Sports Concussion Claims – What’s in Your Playbook?” that discussed issues school districts, public recreation departments, and other governmental entities encounter with these claims. Below are a few key takeaways from the presentation.

12:00:00 p.m.

THE SPEAKERS

  • Gregg Gilliam, Schools of Ohio Risk Sharing Authority
  • Tom Glassman, Bonezzi Switzer Polito & Hupp

12:05:04 p.m.

Tom Glassman

“Today we’re focusing on the types of claims we’re seeing, and likely to see; addressing the issues of government immunity; examining coverage issues that these claims raise; and offering some takeaways and recommendations for investigating [sports concussion] claims when they arise.”

12:09:11 p.m.

Tom Glassman

“Depending upon the law in your state, plaintiffs’ attorneys can be creative in labeling the types of claims they are asserting to avoid the statute of limitations…. You’re going to see some gamesmanship here, where plaintiffs might not call a claim ‘negligence,’ instead calling it ‘fraud and concealment.’” 

12:22:10 p.m.

Gregg Gilliam

“Each state is different in its application of government immunity in terms of assumption of risk…. Assumption of risk is assumed for both ‘express’ and ‘primary’ situations. ‘Express’ can be something like release-of-liability forms for participation in sports, and these are holding up solidly for the defense.”

12:26:49 p.m.

Tom Glassman

“If you’re seeing suits that are very broad and overreaching in terms of who they are targeting, then you need to make sure you have as many policies lined up as you can to spread the risk and get as many people as you can participating in the defense.”

12:29:43 p.m.

Tom Glassman

“The occurrence issue is a fascinating one, and it will vary a lot state by state…. Is an occurrence every time you take a shot to the head? Or is it something that causes an immediate, noticeable event? That’s something not developed by the case law in any state, so it’s something to keep an eye on.” 

12:37:04 p.m.

Gregg Gilliam

“My first claims manager said, ‘If you didn’t document it, then it didn’t happen. If you can’t prove you did it, then you never did it.’ Consent forms are no good if you cannot find them. Important forms like these need to be kept somewhere they can be located.”

12:52:07 p.m.

Gregg Gilliam

“Showing concern is not an admission of liability. You can say, ‘We’re sorry this happened, our student athletes are number one in our heart and we will do everything we can to help them.’” 

12:52:40 p.m.

Gregg Gilliam

“I always say, ‘Use the right resources to adopt and maintain procedures.’ The best people to do that are counsel, whether from your own board or outside. Talk to an attorney trained in these things and get some advice.”

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About The Authors
Eric Gilkey

Eric Gilkey is vice president of content of CLM magazine, a publication of the CLM.  eric.gilkey@TheCLM.org

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