Former NFL Players Gather in California to Protest New Workers Comp Bill

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Former NFL Players in California to Discuss Need for Current California Workers Comp Laws

A new workers comp bill in California, AB1309, has been proposed to bar out-of-state former professional athletes from filing for workers comp in the state of California, simply because they have played one or two games there. However, for the past several weeks, former NFL players and their attorneys have opposed the bill, because, according to the players, the NFL does not provide enough support for players whose bodies are seriously damaged in the course of their short, but brutal, careers. It is necessary, these former players say, to file for additional workers comp to cover their medical bills and help support their families as they age.

On Monday, April 15th, two dozen former NFL players, including San Francisco 49ers defense Dana Stubblefield, and Cincinnati Bengals’ Reggie Williams, appeared in the state capitol in Sacramento to speak out against the new workers comp legislation. The bill, they said, was part of an effort by team owners and the NFL at large to avoid paying the players for legitimate injuries sustained over the course of their careers.

“(Players) paid into the system and now they want to take the system away from us,” said Ickey Woods, who grew up in Fresno and was a running back for the Bengals.

“What we want is a fair look at where the injury took place and whether or not that player deserves to be compensated under the NFL’s compensation system,” said DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League Players Association. “This isn’t a case where anyone here is seeking a land grab.”

During the conference, several of the assembled athletes leaned on canes and candidly discussed their injuries. Williams said he had had 24 surgeries on his right leg, which neither the Bengals nor the NFL paid for. He lifted his pant leg to show his swollen and scarred knee.

“The denial of care that the billionaire owners are putting on players that help make the game as popular as it is is really one of the most embarrassing things about the game today,” Williams said. 

Proposed Bill Would Bar Former Pro Athletes from Seeking Workers Comp in California

Currently, California is one of only nine states that allow former professional athletes to file for workers comp in their state. Most state laws require workers to have resided in the state for a certain period of time before they can claim workers comp. However, California requires only that workers reside in the state for the term of their business there. The current legislation also aids traveling salesmen, truck drivers, and horse racing jockeys, who, says Assemblyman Henry Perea who proposed the bill, will not be affected if the legislation goes into law.

AB1309 would allow only California athletes to file for workers comp, and it would shorten the amount of time for the players to file. Opponents of the bill say that these limitations would not help sports players, who can suffer life-long debilitating injuries such as traumatic brain injuries from concussions, or suffer injuries to joints and muscles that do not show up for years. Proponents, however, say that former athletes have abused California’s workers comp system, filing both in California and their home states, so they receive twice the benefits. This raises workers comp rates for employers throughout the state, and ties up workers comp courts with unnecessary litigation.

“Professional athletes have every right to file for workers’ comp benefits – but they should do so in their home state or in the state where they were principally employed,” Perea said in a news release promoting the bill.

Several insurance companies, as well as a dozen of California’s professional sports teams like the 49ers and the Lakers, back the new legislation.

The Strom Law Firm Understands Worker’s Comp Legislation

The workers comp attorneys 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.