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Career-Ending Disability Coverage for Division I Athletes: What Colleges and Universities Need to Know

Division 1 Disability Insurance Attorney

It’s difficult to discuss the possibility of a young, aspiring athlete losing a professional athletic career before it begins. Whether due to injury or illness, career-ending disabilities can and do happen to top-level Division I athletes, making it a very timely and necessary topic of discussion.

With the right type of career-ending disability insurance, Division I colleges and universities, student-athletes, and their families can find peace and financial protection while giving student-athletes a chance to reassess their career choices.

The nationally renowned long-term disability lawyers at DarrasLaw have nationwide experience assessing career-ending, loss-of-value (LOV), and other forms of insurance designed to protect high school, college, and professional athletes. With our free policy analysis, our top-rated disability lawyers can help you choose the right disability insurance for your situation. Further, with our free claim consultation, we can help you fight for your career-ending or LOV benefits should you need to claim them.

Whether you’re looking to purchase loss-of-value (LOV) insurance, career-ending coverage, or a combination of the two, call our top-rated individual disability attorneys today at 800-898-7299 or contact us online.

What Is Career-Ending Disability Coverage?

Athletic disability insurance is a high-risk, complex subset of long-term disability insurance that few mainstream disability carriers offer. Career-ending disability insurance or permanent total disability insurance is a type of athletic disability insurance that provides high-limit coverage for high school, college, and professional athletes who suffer from a career-ending injury or illness. Depending on the nature of your disability policy, a qualifying athlete may receive the following benefits:

  • Payment on projected future earnings and permanent disability
  • Loss of contract value at the draft or in a free-agency year
  • Loss of anticipated endorsements
  • Reimbursement for the cost of an agent or contract specialist

These plans will typically have policy limits, for example $10 million, and may only entitle you to reimbursement for a portion of your projected earnings—say, 60 percent. Accordingly, if you lose $100 million worth of endorsements as a result of your career-ending injury, in this case, you’re capped at your policy limit of $10 million.

Common Career-Ending Injuries and Illnesses

Your athletic disability insurer will set your career-ending policy premiums based on your risk of injury and future earning capacity. All athletes, including tennis players and golfers, are susceptible to career-ending injuries, but football players and athletes in other hard-contact sports are especially venerable. Career-ending athletic injuries commonly include, but are not limited to:

  • Muscle and ligament tears, especially in the joints of the knee, hip, shoulder, and elbow
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Degenerative back, neck, thoracic, and cognitive injuries as the result of repetition and multiple impacts
  • ACL, MCL, and PCL tears
  • Dislocated kneecaps
  • Car accidents
  • Genetic heart conditions, such as Afib
  • Traumatic brain injuries and multiple concussions

While ankle, quad, and hamstring strains are the most common athletic injuries, they’re rarely permanently disabling. However, when you have multiple strains and strains of the same area, this could require surgery, such as Tommy John Surgery, which doesn’t rehabilitate all athletes.

What Is a Career-Ending Disability?

Some injuries, such as severe traumatic brain injuries and paralysis, will almost certainly end athletes’ careers. However, is a broken leg always career-ending? What about a strain or a single concussion? You will need to answer these questions if you claim career-ending disability benefits, because there is a difference between loss-of-value injuries and career-ending injuries.

Here’s an example: Alex Pitcher is an elite Division I athlete eligible for the MLB draft. He was expected to go in the first few rounds, but injured his elbow and needs Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm. Knowing this, will any Major League team draft him? If Alex Pitcher can’t get a contract because of his ligament damage and impending surgery, is his injury de facto career-ending? Maybe. But does it qualify him for career-ending disability benefits?

Probably not. A doctor would have to certify that, even with treatment, Alex could never pitch in the Majors. Without this certification, under the terms of many career-ending injury insurance policies, he’s simply “lost value” as an athlete. He hasn’t suffered a career-ending injury.

If you or your student-athletes are unable to get paid on a professional athletic contract due to an illness or injury, contact the experienced athletic disability attorneys at DarrasLaw. We can analyze your claim to determine whether we can help you benefit from your career-ending disability insurance or a drop in projected slot in the draft or during free agency.

Challenges Claiming Career-Ending Disability Benefits

If it’s undisputed that you’ve suffered from a career-ending injury as a student-athlete, you’ll probably still have trouble claiming the disability benefits you deserve. One of the main reasons career-ending disability insurance is so complex is because insurers base benefits on something called “future projected lost income.”

A standard long-term disability policy will provide traditional benefits that cover a percentage of their income. As an injured college athlete, you’ll have to fight to prove your future worth. Some athletic disability insurers will agree on a sum when you enroll, while others will not. Even if you have an agreed-upon sum, your disability insurer will look at both your recent on-court performance and off-court activities in a bid to lower your benefits.

For example, if you agreed on a $10 million future projected value during your junior year, but your performance declined, and the police arrested you for a DUI, expect your disability insurance company to claim you wouldn’t have commanded that $10 million contract. On the other hand, if you performed exceptionally well, had a healthy and clean off-court life, and expected to go in the top 10 of the draft, you should argue for a high future lost earning and sponsorship figure.

Call an Award-Winning College-Athlete Disability Attorney at DarrasLaw Today

DarrasLaw’s stellar disability attorneys are passionate about the health and welfare of amateur and professional athletes. We never want to see an aspiring athlete injured or a sickness that permanently prevents playing professionally, but if you are, we may be able to help.

Whether you’re simply exploring your options for athletic high limit disability insurance, looking to make a career-ending disability claim, or you or the college/university bought drop in slot protection and your benefits have been wrongfully delayed, denied, reduced, or terminated, call us today.

Nationally renowned long-term disability attorney Frank N. Darras and his firms have recovered nearly $1 billion in wrongfully denied insurance benefits. To schedule your free permanent total disability or drop in draft or free agency protection consultation, call our top-rated athlete disability attorneys today at 800-898-7299 or contact us online.

DarrasLaw is Americas' most honored and decorated disability litigation firm in the country. Mr. Darras has seen more, evaluated more, litigated more, and resolved more individual and group long term disability and long-term care cases than any other lawyer in the United States.

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