Former Eagles safety Chris Maragos recently won a medical malpractice lawsuit against the team doctors after he sustained a knee injury. Maragos was successfully able to argue that team doctors hurried him back onto the field and it ended up causing an injury that ended his career. Maragos issued a statement demanding that teams and doctors begin looking at players as people and not just contracts. Maragos played 8 seasons with the Eagles and was a team captain when the injury ended his career.
He was awarded $43 million in the medical malpractice lawsuit.
Analyzing the allegations
Lawsuits against team doctors are not rare. There have been others in the past, with some players believing that team doctors were under-reporting their injuries in order to get them back on the field. Meanwhile, there are players, like Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who appear to want to be on the field regardless of their medical situation – in Tagovailoa’s case, multiple concussions. Then you have the Damar Hamlin situation which rocked the NFL and placed renewed importance on the role of first responders and medical equipment at football games. In the backdrop of all this, are the concussion lawsuits that the NCAA and NFL recently settled. These were filed by former football players who claimed the NFL knew that concussions could have long-lasting effects and failed to report this to players or take any preventative measures.
The lawsuit comes at a time when the NFL is attempting to fend off allegations that it treats its players like a cash crop and cares little for their long-term health.
How does this work moving forward?
We only have a handful of reports of players who believe their team doctors put the needs of the team over the needs of their patients, but it is also one of the reasons why NFL players can still sue their employer. There can be no situation in which an employer has control over the medical decisions of an employee as that would be tantamount to having the power of life and death over your employees. Hence, workers’ compensation immunity can never be a factor in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Ultimately, the same standards that apply to any doctor apply to team doctors. Those doctors must adhere to the prevailing standard of care for their patients, even those who play a dangerous game for a living. In cases where they breach that duty of care, they can be sued. This is one of the instances in which a suit is successful.
As far as the $43 million award goes, damages in a personal injury lawsuit are tied to the income of the injured. So, you have a team captain, starter, and an 8-year pro. That’s a lot of money he lost because of the injury and every dime of it can be prorated. So, if you’re a doctor, you have additional incentive to avoid harming rich patients, an example of the socio-economic discrimination inherent in the system, which is a topic for another blog post.
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Palmer | Lopez represents the interests of Tampa residents who have sustained injury due to medical treatment. Call our Tampa medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your case immediately.