Professional athletes seek compensation for brain injuries

Professional athletes seek compensation for brain injuries

We have written in this blog in the past about California's unusual workers' compensation laws as they relate to professional sports. Under California law, professional athletes were allowed to file for workers' compensation benefits in our state if they played a game on California soil -- not necessarily as part of a California team, but as part of any team.

This means a player could, for example, play his entire career for a team from another state, but still file for workers' compensation in California. If, for example, an athlete played for the Minnesota Vikings his entire career, he could still seek compensation for his cumulative sports injuries if he played a single game in California against the 49ers.

This is especially helpful for players who live in states with more restrictive workers' compensation laws. Many players have found that California allowed them to file when their own states would not.

Last year, after significant media attention, the California government closed the workers' compensation loophole by mandating stricter filing requirements. The new requirements prevent most out-of-state athletes from receiving workers' compensation in California, but they did not go into effect immediately. Over 1,000 athletes made a point to apply for benefits in the months and weeks before the loophole closed. Nearly 70 percent of these filings were due to repetitive brain injuries.

When workers' compensation failed or was not enough to fully compensation players for the suffering they now endure, many athletes turned to a personal injury lawsuit. There is currently a lawsuit in the court system that is being fought between the National Football League and former players. The athletes, who number more than 4,500, contend that the league should do more to pay for the head injuries they have suffered as the result of repeated concussions.

The NFL recently offered a $750 million settlement; this was rejected, however, by a federal judge, who noted that the amount was not high enough to pay for all of the players' long-term injuries.

Source: The LA Times, "NFL workers' comp victory comes at a price" Armand Emamdjomeh and Ken Bensinger, Feb. 01, 2014

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