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NFL Sues Insurance Companies for Not Defending Head-Injury Lawsuits

By Andrew Lu on August 20, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The NFL is taking the offensive in the head injury lawsuits by suing more than 30 insurance companies for failing to cover the league's rapidly growing legal bills.

A large group of former players has sued the NFL claiming that they suffered permanent head injuries as a result of playing football. In 143 lawsuits, the ex-players accuse the NFL of negligence for failing to inform players of the link between repeated traumatic head impacts and long-term brain injuries, reports Bloomberg.

With the large scope of the lawsuit, the NFL has already racked up $5 million in legal bills. According to its insurance policies, the NFL believes that companies like Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. and TIG Insurance Co. breached their contracts by refusing to defend the league.

Generally, an insurance policy is in place to cover the unexpected costs of damages and legal actions. The exact scope of what the insurance covers and does not cover depends upon specific policies and their wording.

With the NFL's head injury lawsuits, the league argues that the "duty-to-defend" policy in the insurance contracts imposes on each insurer a duty to defend any suit against the NFL on "account of bodily or personal injury covered or potentially covered by the policy," reports Bloomberg.

It's not clear what rationale the insurance companies gave in not defending the NFL. However, insurance companies oftentimes have exclusions on what they do and don't cover. This can include things like willful and malicious violations.

Given the mounting number of plaintiffs in the NFL head injury lawsuits and the potential multi-million dollar liability, the insurance companies will likely try every argument to stay uninvolved. It will likely be up to a judge to examine the insurance policies to determine just what is covered.

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