In early 2017, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was involved in an automobile accident. The person in the other car has now sued Elliott to obtain compensation for his injuries.
NBCDFW.com has the lawsuit, in which the plaintiff opens with an acknowledgement that he’s a fan of the Cowboys and Elliott, and that he files the lawsuit only reluctantly. But the fact remains that the lawsuit was filed against Elliott, which means that the plaintiff’s attorney and Elliott’s insurance company haven’t been able to resolve the situation.
In a statement issued to multiple members of the media, Elliott’s lawyer has tried to create the impression that the lawsuit isn’t really against Elliott, but that’s simply not accurate. While his insurance company will cover defense costs and any settlement or verdict up to the limits of his liability (and Elliott should have had an umbrella policy of at least $10 million in place), Elliott is the defendant because he’s the one who allegedly committed negligence resulting in the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. If Elliott wasn’t negligent in the driving of his automobile, he owes the plaintiff nothing.
And if the plaintiff’s total damages exceed the limits of Elliott’s insurance coverage, he’ll be responsible for the excess.
So why is Elliott’s lawyer so intent on making it look like Elliott isn’t being sued for negligence in the driving of his car? Apart from obvious P.R. considerations, the Personal Conduct Policy contains a broad provision that hinges a potential violation to any “[c]onduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person.” If Elliott was driving his car in a negligent manner and if his car collided with another person, causing bodily injury, Elliott engaged in conduct that posed a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person.
While the Personal Conduct Policy likely was never intended to cover simple car accidents involving NFL players, if NFL players aren’t responsible handling their cars and in turn causing injury to other drivers, that would potentially fit within the scope of the relevant language. And because the NFL has proven that it will apply the Personal Conduct Policy however and wherever and whenever it sees fit, it makes sense for Elliott’s camp to keep the NFL from connecting the dots in a way that would cause them to decide to regard Elliott’s behavior as potentially falling within the scope of the policy.