Month: January 2019

Effects of Concussions

Former University of Iowa Football Player Describes Degenerative Effects of Concussions

Football has been one of America’s favorite sports for decades. Many young boys have eagerly played the game with hopes of playing at the collegiate or professional level. Unfortunately, players are now learning the concussions they sustained during play lead to long-term health consequences. Hundreds of former collegiate football players are suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for failing to protect them from concussions while playing. One such player is Marc Mazzeri who is a former University of Iowa football player.

Mr. Mazzeri played for the University of Iowa in the 1980s as a receiver and as a special teams “gunner.” Gunners are responsible for tackling the opposing team’s punter, which made it a particularly violent position. Mr. Mazzeri suffered many instances of “seeing stars,” and regularly received headaches from playing football but continued to play for fear of losing his spot on the practice squad. Mr. Mazzeri specifically remembers blacking out several times after hard hits he received in games. In these instances, he couldn’t remember what happened later, and in one instance, he woke up with vertigo and was unable to look up. While Mr. Mazzeri did see a neurologist for his symptoms, he still played for the university the following week.

When Mr. Mazzeri graduated in 1988, the damage was already done. His behavior had changed. He was often aggressive and irritable and suffered from pain in his neck, head, and shoulders. After years working in executive security, Mr. Mazzeri’s once impeccable memory was fading. A neurologist eventually tested him because the doctor believed his memory loss was consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is a degenerative neurological condition similar to dementia that has been associated with football players. Concussions sustained while playing football cause brain cells to die. When a brain cell dies, it releases a protein that can cause further cell death. This protein can build up and eventually lead to enough cell death to cause serious neurological impairment. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop the development of CTE.

The NCAA is responsible for safeguarding the health and wellbeing of student athletes. Even though the NCAA has known for decades that the concussions sustained while playing football can cause long-term damage, the organization failed to warn players or implement any concussion protocols to mitigate the effects until 2010. The NCAA had no right to profit off of collegiate football players at the expensive of their health.

Raizner Law Is Representing Former Collegiate Football Players

If you are a former collegiate football player, Raizner law can explain your legal options and hold the NCAA accountable for the injuries you suffered. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.


Trump Administration May Use Hurricane Harvey Recovery Funds To Build Border Wall

As President Donald Trump considers declaring a state of national emergency in order to build the border wall, certain organizations have been asked to prepare for this scenario. The White House has told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to examine its budget and determine what funds can be redirected from its emergency fund. This emergency fund is comprised of $13.8 billion dollars that has been set aside to fund over 50 disaster relief projects in California, Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico. Large portions of this fund are designated to aid Texans suffering from damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and Puerto Ricans suffering from damage caused by Hurricane Maria.

Although it has been a year since both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria made landfall, neither Texas nor Puerto Rico has reached a full recovery. Both storms caused billions of dollars in damage and millions more will be needed to undertake flood-control projects to prevent catastrophic flooding from recurring. Specifically in Houston, flood-control projects aim to widen and deepen Clear Creek, Hunting Bayou, Brays Bayou, and White Oak Bayou.

Victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria are struggling enough with rebuilding. The use of their designated emergency funds on anything other than hurricane recovery would be a serious blow. Insurance companies have been both extremely slow to process and pay out on hurricane property damage claims and utilizing bad faith tactics to deny valid claims. The Puerto Rico Commissioner of Insurance has already levied millions of dollars in fines against insurance companies for their inaction, but policyholders are still reporting outstanding claims and wrongful denials.

Although President Trump has stated he does not plan on declaring a state of emergency in the next few days, the option to do so still looms overhead for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria victims. A major loss in funding could bring an already slow recovery to a screeching halt.

Representing Hurricane Victims

There are many challenges facing hurricane victims. Raizner Law is proudly representing both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria victims in a variety of lawsuits to get the compensation they deserve and need to rebuild. If you suffered property damage during a hurricane, contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help.

dangers of concussions

Concussion Detecting Device Receives FDA Approval

For many years, football coaches told players to “walk it off” when they were experiencing concussion symptoms, to the extreme detriment of the players’ health. Decades of research have shown concussive and sub-concussive hits sustained while playing football can cause serious long-term injuries. In particular, it is extremely dangerous to keep playing football after sustaining a concussion. Luckily for players, a new device has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to diagnose concussions in real time.

Currently, in order to diagnose a concussion, players must undergo a medical examination and possibly diagnostic testing, but all of that could change soon. Bethesda BrainScope Co. Inc. received FDA approval for a portable medical device called the BrainScope One that uses EEG-based technology to assess brain injuries. Specifically, the FDA cleared the BrainScope One to perform a “multi-modal, multi-parameter assessment,” to determine the likelihood someone has suffered a “concussion” or “mild traumatic brain injury.” The device can also evaluate the severity of the injury and identify internal bleeding in the brain.

The BrainScope was developed with an investment from the Department of Defense, and is currently being used by the U.S. military, urgent care clinics, concussions clinics, emergency rooms, and other healthcare facilities. The BrainScope will be able to identify concussions faster and more cost effectively than previous methods. Sadly, this type of technology arrives far too late for many former football players.

NCAA Concussions

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is responsible for safeguarding the health and wellbeing of student athletes. The NCAA has known about the dangers of concussions and continuing to play while concussed for decades, but failed to institute protocols to mitigate long-term effects. Now, many former football players are suffering from memory loss, depression, mood swings, and neurological impairment, among other serious medical conditions. Many former football players are left so debilitated they can longer work or end up developing degenerative conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS.

Holding the NCAA Responsible

The NCAA chose profits instead of players’ safety in repeatedly refusing to implement concussion protocols. Players have a right to hold the organization accountable for its greed. Raizner Law is representing former collegiate football players in lawsuits against the NCAA. If you want to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us today.

Former Football Player

Family Reveals Tragic End For Former Football Player

In 2005, law enforcement officers found Rod Stensrud running on a busy road next to a shopping mall. The officers reported Mr. Stensrud told them, “Something is wrong with my brain.” Unfortunately, Mr. Stensrud was right. A year after this incident he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Mr. Stensrud played at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and at California State University, Long Beach. At UCLA he played on scout and special teams. At Cal State, he received little game time; however, he was subjected to repeated concussive and sub-concussive hits during scrimmages and practices. He described his own concussions in a 2008 interview while participating in an Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk as “Just a collision like a truck, a Mack truck.”

By his mid-40s, Mr. Stensrud began to experience cognitive impairment. In the early 1990s, Mr. Stensrud got lost heading to the bathroom at a Stanford-UCLA basketball game. Eventually, he had to stop working because he could not keep track of important paperwork. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stensrud admitted to a friend that he couldn’t remember how to unlock his own front door. Just prior to his diagnosis, he was also suffering from hallucinations.

When Mr. Stensrud was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he was only 55 years old, which made him younger than 95% of patients with Alzheimer’s. As surprising as the diagnosis was, it made more sense when he eventually passed away in 2011. After his death, his brain was donated to Stanford pathologists who diagnosed him postmortem with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head trauma.

Mr. Stensrud’s CTE and Alzheimer’s were likely the result of his years playing collegiate football. Many studies have shown a link between the repeated impacts sustained during play and degenerative neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS, among others. Mr. Stensrud’s widow has filed a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for failing the protect college athletes from the long-term effects of concussions. The NCAA has known for decades that concussions can cause serious neurological damage, but failed to update any protocols or educate players on the risks.

Raizner Law partner Jeff Raizner is representing Mrs. Stensrud in her lawsuit against the NCAA, as well as dozens of other former NCAA football players. Mr. Raizner was quoted in The Mercury News explaining, “This is not just a phenomenon that happens to the stars, the guys who play in every game. It happens to the guys you never heard of. Guys you won’t even see on an active roster.”

NCAA Concussion Claims

Many former football players are suffering lasting effects as a result of their time playing for universities. If you or someone you love played NCAA football, contact Raizner Law immediately. We can help you obtain compensation for the NCAA’s failure to protect student athletes. Call us today for a free consultation.

A man holding an umbrella stands in front of damage caused by Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico Suffered The Most Adverse Weather Events Over Past 20 Years

The Caribbean has always been home to extreme weather events. The area is ripe for storms and hurricanes that routinely sweep through during every hurricane season. However, not all Caribbean islands are created equal. Some islands have suffered more than others from extreme weather events. The island of Puerto Rico has suffered the most adverse weather events worldwide over the past 20 years.

At the climate summit in Katowice, Poland, the non-profit Germanwatch released The Global Climate Risk Index 2019. The report looked at the resulting economic damages from natural disasters from 1998 to 2017. These natural disasters included “storms, floods, heat waves, etc.” and the economic impact was calculated using purchasing-power parity or PPP.

It comes as no surprise that after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was region that suffered the most damage from a natural disaster in 2017. Additionally, the report also determined Puerto Rico was impacted the hardest according to long-term indexes from 1998-2017. Puerto Rico has been slammed by number of storms throughout the past 20 years, but none has been quite like Hurricane Maria.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, it caused billions of dollars in damage. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the island was left mostly in the dark. The power grid that supplied electricity to the island was severely damaged in the storm, and it took months to complete vital repairs. Roads, bridges, and other infrastructure also suffered damage, which made it difficult for supplies to be distributed.

To make matters worse, the insurance market in Puerto Rico is mostly comprised of domestic insurers that have reinsured most if not all of their risk with foreign, European based reinsurers. These foreign reinsurers have been extremely slow to act when handling and paying out on claims. Although the government has levied fines against insurance companies for their inaction, many claims still remain open. Policyholders have been forced to try and pay for repairs themselves and many have simply closed the doors of their businesses for good.

Recovering From Hurricane Maria

Policyholders that regularly pay their monthly premiums deserve full coverage under their policies. Foreign reinsurers have no right to slow down or deny recovery to Puerto Ricans. If your insurance company is delaying, underpaying, or denying your Hurricane Maria insurance claim, contact Raizner Law for a free consultation. Our experienced insurance lawyers can help you get the compensation you are rightfully entitled to.

Hail Damage Insurance Denials

Dallas Property Owners Facing Bad Faith Insurance Denials

The Dallas-Fort Worth Area is no stranger to storms. The region is often at the center of large thunderstorms, including regular hailstorms. Even though this area regularly receives extreme weather, little could have prepared Dallas for the hailstorm that swept through the city last June. For many commercial property owners, delayed, underpaid, or outright denied insurance claims remain a constant reminder of the storm.

In the early morning hours of June 6, 2018, a severe thunderstorm swept through the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. The storm split right over Collin County, Texas, and the westernmost cell moved south-southwestward. The cell dropped large hail stones from southeast Denton County into northwest Dallas County and eastern Tarrant County until it finally reached Arlington, Texas. The storm was so loud that many Dallas-Fort Worth residents mistook the pounding hail for intruders or gunshots.

While some areas only saw hail the size of half an inch in diameter, hail the size of tennis balls was reported just east of Arlington. Overall, an estimated 20,000 structures were damaged in the storm. Unfortunately for property owners, insurance companies are utilizing a variety of bad faith tactics to reduce or completely deny valid claims.

Hail Damage Insurance Denials

Anytime there is a natural disaster or extreme weather event, insurance companies stand to lose a lot of money. Insurance companies are first and foremost a business, so when faced with large-scale disasters, they do anything they can to limit payouts. Some of the bad faith tactics insurance companies use to wrongfully deny valid property damage claims include:

  • Blaming the damage on inadequate maintenance
  • Wrongly claiming the amount of damage is less than the deductible
  • Misinterpreting the policy to claim the damage isn’t covered when in fact it is

What Property Owners Can Do

If you regularly pay your premium, you deserve full coverage under your policy. If your insurance company is delaying, underpaying, or outright denying your claim, Raizner Law can help. Our experienced insurance lawyers take on large insurance companies to get our clients what they are rightfully owed under their policies. If you suffered damage during the Dallas hail storm and your claim has been denied, contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.