Despite California Workers Comp Law, Three NFL Workers Comp Lawsuits Are Consolidated in the State
Three workers comp lawsuits from National Football League players have been consolidated in in the US District Court in San Francisco, after a request from several teams and the NFL.
The workers comp case involves 67 former NFL players who withdrew from an arbitration award issued in December 2012, which required the players to withdraw their workers comp claims from California courts. The players were part of several teams, including the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, and the New York Giants.
US District Court Judge William H. Alsup ordered the three cases to be consolidated on March 13th, according to court records.
The consolidation came after a countersuit from the NFL Management Council and the four affected NFL teams, which was filed on March 8th. The countersuit alleged that the players should file workers comp claims in the state specified by their player contracts.
Currently, at least 2,400 former players have sued the league because of neurological and cognitive problems that they allege were caused on the field. The players insist that, although the league provides some workers comp and medical coverage, it is not enough to cover a lifetime of doctors’ visits, physical injury preventing work, and emotional distress for both the former players and their families. California’s workers comp laws have thus far been loose enough to allow out-of-state workers to file workers comp claims in the state if they have ever, for any amount of time, worked within the state.
California Proposes Changes to Workers Comp Bill to Prevent More NFL Claims
At the end of February, California lawmakers proposed changes to the current workers comp laws, which they allege allow former NFL players to tie up California workers comp courts with claims for huge amounts of money.
According to the current worker’s comp law, anyone who lived and worked in California is eligible for worker’s comp benefits in California state court, regardless of their current residence. Retired athletes, who may have only played one or two games in California, are using this law to receive additional financial support not offered through disability or worker’s comp insurance from their leagues.
The new bill proposes that workers must live and work in California for at least 90 days before being eligible for worker’s comp benefits. It will also only affect players from the big five sports mentioned, and would not apply to members of other professions such as truck drivers, horse racing jockeys, and salesmen.
Proponents of the new bill argue that a glut of retired out-of-state athletes has clogged the worker’s comp courts, making it harder for California residents to receive timely decisions on their benefits. They also say that the large payouts to retired athletes contributes to higher insurance costs for in-state employers.
Players argue that league owners are simply looking for ways to boost profits in an already hugely profitable industry. If they limit or eliminate financial assistance to severely-injured ex-athletes, they reduce their overhead, even if it is at the expense of former players.
The Strom Law Firm Understands Worker’s Comp Legislation
The workers comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.