Loophole lets NFL players file for workers' comp in California

It is no secret that the job of professional football player is one ripe with injuries over the course of a player's career. The number of concussions and subsequent lawsuits related to those concussions is seemingly endless. One California attorney who himself is a former NFL player represents more than 1,000 retired professional players in their quest to obtain workers' compensation benefits from employers in the state of California.

The attorney said the NFL is trying to cut off benefits for players at every step leaving only California as one of the few places players have a right to file for workers compensation benefits. Apparently these players need to have played only one game in the state in order to qualify for benefits. They are not required to demonstrate a specific injury, only that they were injured over the course of their career. This loophole is flooding the state with thousands of workers compensation claims, according to reports.

Now employers are responsible for pay workers compensation insurance and thus these benefits are paid out by the NFL's insurance carriers. But some say the influx of cases is driving up workers compensation rates for everyone. California has only so many courtrooms and doctors and boards that review claims, all paid for by employers and thus the increased caseload increases the overall costs for all employers.

And apparently it is not just the NFL that is involved, many professional athletes from the NHL, to the MLB and NBA who played at least one game in California are filing workers' compensation claims in California. The issue is so widespread apparently that a study was commissioned by the four major leagues and resulted in an estimate that workers' compensation claims filed by professional athletes who do not reside in California nor played at one time for a California team will cost more than $1.2 billion.

In many cases, a player filed in his home state or in states where he was a member of the team as well as in California. One legislator wants to do something about this loophole this year in an effort to stop attracting out-of-state players from filing in the state and putting a drain on the system. Filing for workers' compensation benefits is the right of all employees and there are times when an injured worker needs to consult with a legal professional in an effort to ensure he or she obtains the compensation he or she deserves.

Source: ABC 7 News, "NFL players can file for CA workers' comp thanks to loophole," John Hartung, Feb. 1, 2013

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