Former Tennessee Titans long snapper Jeremy Cain was awarded a settlement of $23,823 in a workers compensation claim against the club and its insurer on Wednesday.
Cain, who now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, spent a portion of the 2007 season in Tennessee after regular long snapper Ken Amato suffered a season-ending knee injury. He appeared in nine games and stayed on the roster through training camp and preseason the following year.
It was then on Aug. 22 and 25, 2008 that Cain, according to the settlement filed in Davidson County Circuit Court, sustained a concussion and was examined by Titans team physicians Dr. Thomas Byrd and Dr. Craig Rutland. The Titans released Cain in their final preseason cuts on Aug. 31 of that year.
On Sept. 9 of that year, Cain was diagnosed by Dr. Gillian Hotz as suffering from post-concussive syndrome and the doctor asserted that Cain had suffered some permanent damage as a result of the head injury, according to the suit.
Hotz cleared Cain to return to football activity in Oct. 21, 2008, and the lawsuit against the Titans’ insurance company, Great Divide Insurance, was filed in July 2009.
The Titans and Great Divide argued to the contrary that Cain’s injury and workers compensation benefits had already been paid out, and pointed to the fact that Cain spent the entire 2009 season playing for the Jaguars as reason to believe there was no permanent damage from the concussion suffered while with the Titans.
When contacted Wednesday, the Titans declined to comment on the settlement.
Over the past few years, concussions have become a hot-button issue around the NFL with the league even altering its approach to head injuries and requiring players to sit out until the symptoms have subsided in light of new research and information that have come into play in recent years.
The two sides agreed on Wednesday to a compromise that would pay Cain the lump sum settlement and also a partial disability rating of 7.9 percent in regards to the concussion. In addition, the Titans, in accordance with the Tennessee workers compensation laws, could be responsible for future medical costs that may occur to Cain as a result of the injury.
Attorney Greg Ramos, who represented Cain in the matter, said the partial disability rating and the open-ended medical portion of the claim are key for players that come and go and may have only a brief career with the Titans and in the NFL.
“This is not for 100 percent disability,” Ramos said. “ The way it broke down was 7.9 percent. Tennessee gives permanent partial disability rating, if an injury results in some sort of permanent injury. Sometimes the Titans contest that and they don’t acknowledge that, but even if there is a permanent injury, it may not be to the extent that requires him to stop playing football.
“The settlement is not a huge amount, but these guys are entitled to that and in the event that there are future problems related to the concussion, the medicals are left open. And that’s the important part.”
Where the situation could become clouded, however, is if a similar injury occurs again while Cain is an active player in the NFL, according to Ramos. Such an injury could cause the Titans to attempt to be absolved of any further liability if a new similar-type injury worsened a player’s existing condition.
Such workers compensation claims like Cain’s are not uncommon with regards to the state’s professional sports teams, and state law on such matters. Ramos represents many of the smaller workers compensation claims that can arise under Tennessee laws that involve both the Titans and Nashville Predators, working through the NFL and NHL player associations.
“It is just a normal workers compensation settlement that we do all the time and for these individuals when they have an injury that occurs during their normal scope of employment for the Titans,” he said.