The matchup between team owners and former professional athletes over reform of the workers' compensation system here in California now sits at 1-0 after an important committee vote held in Sacramento earlier this week.
Last month, Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) unveiled legislation designed to amend the state labor code such that the legal loophole allowing professional athletes from out-of-state organizations to seek work comp benefits here in California would be effectively closed.
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.
Nearly 100 years ago, the state of California established its workers' compensation system in an attempt to provide much-needed support to those who suffered serious work injuries. While the system has, of course, undergone a major transformation since the early 1900s -- evolving into a $12 billion industry -- it's underlying principle has remained the same: any person employed in California for any period of time may seek benefits to cover their medical expenses and work-related disabilities.
In previous workers' compensation defense posts, we examined how the state of California has rapidly become the venue of choice for former National Football League (NFL) players seeking to file work comp claims. Specifically, these former pros -- many of whom only practiced or played a few games in California -- are claiming to have suffered serious work-related injuries caused by years of bruising contact in the NFL.
In our last post, we discussed the flood of California work comp claims coming from former and current NFL players for teams across the country. In many cases, NFL pros and former pros are filing these work comp claims claiming injury after years of cumulative trauma from bruising contact in the NFL. If any of these claim is successful, the player could receive up to $150,000 for the work-related injury and free medical care for life under California work comp laws.
Owners in the National Football League (NFL) are on the defensive as thousands of current and former professional football players who played in the NFL have filed worker's compensation claims in California's work comp system. Claims from decades of bruising hits in the NFL could escalate into hundreds of millions of dollars. NFL owners are now defending against work comp claims in the state from which they operate and California, too, in some cases.