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Amended workers’ comp bill would limit claims for athletes

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2021 | Firm News

Workers compensation is an important asset for employees to have access to when they become disabled. Professional athletes, of course, are in a different category than industrial and construction workers and the like, but they also make use of the same protections.

On Wednesday, lawmakers reportedly reached an agreement to compromise on proposed legislation that would prevent professional athletes based outside of California from filing work injury claims. We’ve previous mentioned the legislation on this blog, noting that it has stirred frustration among professional athletes.

The compromise would allow claims for cumulative trauma that occurred during the course of a career provided the athlete played a minimum of two seasons for a professional team located in California. The heart of the agreement is to prevent athletes who have not played for a California team to take advantage of the cumulative trauma aspect of the workers’ compensation law.

The reason any of this is an issue is because of California’s generous workers’ compensation law–some would call it a legal loophole–which allows cases on cumulative trauma injuries for out-of-state players. Advocates of the legislation say that out-of-state athletes have routinely used the loophole to put 100 percent of the cumulative trauma liability on California-based teams.

The law places broad limits on such claims, based on when a player came to know of the injury and whether he or she was properly notified of compensation rights upon retirement. That is the aspect of the law cut out by the new proposal.

The goal of the proposed legislation is to ensure that professional athletes seeking workers’ comp for cumulative trauma spent a substantial portion of their career in California.

The bill has yet to be approved by the full Senate.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Lawmakers agree to limit workers’ comp for non-California athletes,” Patrick McGreevy, July 10, 2013.