The Fight Over Professional Athletes Workers’ Comp

by / Thursday, 25 April 2013 / Published in Blog

In almost all cases, players suffer some type of work related injury or injuries. Therefore, players are eligible to apply for workers’ compensation benefits.

However, the laws vary from state to state regarding the time frame in which the player must file their workers’ comp claim. The State of California has their own unique set of laws that address the time in which a player must file their claim, which happen to be a bit more lenient than other states.

  • In California, you can file a claim if you can argue that you suffered an injury in California, even if your employer (team) was located elsewhere.
  • In addition, California is one of only 9 states that awards workers’ comp for cumulative trauma injuries. Cumulative trauma injuries are things like knee or back damage from years of blocking and tackling, or neurological damage from repeated concussions.

The NFL has secretly crept into the legislatures of the states in which they play and have used their massive billion dollar propaganda apparatus to convince unwitting legislatures that players’ workers’ compensation benefits are costing their states tax dollars.

However, just the opposite is true!  Most if not all professional athletes pay state income taxing in the states in which they play known as the “jock tax”.  Moreover, the players have already paid for the cost of their workers’ compensation benefits through their share of all revenue and agreed upon through the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The NFL has managed to convince the legislatures that these workers’ compensation benefits are a burden on their states resources and thus must be eliminated entirely, even though every worker has this state right, especially taxpayers (like most players are).

Supporters of newly proposed legislation such as AB-1309 say that players that file in California are exploiting a “loop hole” in the law.  Additionally, they have said that players are “double dipping” by filing in California.  This could not be further from the truth!

There is something called the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” which prevents “double dipping” from occurring.  And, the teams and their insurance carriers are given a credit if the player has already received a benefit on that particular body part.

If AB-1309 passes in its current form, many current cases, as well as future potential workers’ compensation cases will no longer exist.  This applies to all sports: NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS and MLB.

If you have questions regarding whether AB-1309 would affect your ability to collect workers’ comp, please don’t hesitate to call our office at 949-452-0700 and my partners and I would be happy to discuss your case.

Mel Owens (77 Posts)

Mel Owens, Attorney at Law, is a true Personal Injury Law expert. A former NFL Player, he is well known for his work 'with Worker's Compensation law throughout California. You can find him on Google+, Linked In and Twitter.


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