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State lawmaker introduces bill closing work comp loophole for out-of-state athletes

A few weeks ago, we discussed how thousands of former professional athletes have been filing work comp claims in California since the 1980s despite having ever played only a few games here.

This is made possible by the fact that California work comp laws are written such that the statute of limitations for a work comp claim may be 15 years or longer from the date of work injury -- a longer time period than most other states. Furthermore, injured workers are also allowed to file for "cumulative trauma" (i.e., conditions that are caused by years of exposure to repetitive trauma on the job) so long as they can prove that they performed some type of work in California at some point in time.

Naturally then, former National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) have filed their claims here, maintaining that they suffered serious work-related injuries caused by years of bruising contact in their respective sports.

Interestingly, one state lawmaker has now unveiled legislation designed to amend the state labor code such that the legal loophole allowing professional athletes from out-of-state organizations to seek cumulative-trauma benefits here would be closed.

Assembly Bill 1309, sponsored by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno), would do the following:

"This bill would provide that an employee hired outside of this state, his or her dependents, and his or her employer shall be exempt from this state's workers' compensation laws if the employee is a professional athlete, defined, for purposes of these provisions, to include an athlete who is employed at the minor or major league level in the sport of baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer, and that professional athlete is temporarily within this state doing work for his or her employer."

It is worth noting that 60 former NFL players have filed a lawsuit in the federal court in San Francisco against the league's management council. They are seeking to overturn a recent arbitration decision prohibiting them from seeking work comp benefits in California or even claiming that they are entitled to said benefits.

Stay tuned for updates on this evolving story ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


Insurance Journal, "California bill battles workers' comp claims from athletes," March 1, 2013

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