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Did you know that retired professional athletes with non-California teams are receiving California Workers’ Compensation payments?

Former pro athletes who previously played for non-California teams are eligible for and receiving money under California’s workers’ compensation insurance program. According to the Los Angeles Times, former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, who played just nine times in California in his 88 game career, received $199,000 from a California workers’ compensation court. He was paid this workers’ compensation money for the lifelong cumulative effects of his NFL injuries, including injuries to his head, arms, legs and general body, per records of workers’ compensation.

This is not an isolated case. Moses Malone, the former NBA basketball center with the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Bullets was awarded $155,000 in workers’ compensation benefits. Michael Irvin, wide receiver with the Dallas Cowboys, was awarded $249,000. The Times reported that over the last 30 years our California workers’ compensation insurance system has paid out millions of dollars in benefits for job related injuries to thousands of professional athletes. The Times also reported that the vast majority of these athletes were employed by out-of-state professional teams, some playing as few as one game in California.

While many did not know this, all states permit their professional athletes to receive workers’ compensation benefits for injuries that occurred within their borders. However, California is one of just a few states that pays additional benefits to professional athletes based in other states for the cumulative effect of their injuries that occurred within California after years of playing time.

Amazingly, since 1980, approximately $747 million has been paid to 4,500 players. Fortunately, California taxpayers are not responsible for these payments as workers’ compensation is funded by employers.

In response, professional leagues and their insurers have hired lobbyists and consultants to push legislation to bar out-of-state players from receiving these benefits.

The question is, while injured workers of California should receive compensation for their injuries, should they receive any compensation from states where they played just a few games instead of the state where their team was based and where they played most of their games?

Another question is, given the violent nature of some sports, such as the NFL, with its very high risk of injury, shouldn’t their team or league be required to fund medical insurance coverage for their injured athletes?

And finally, do you think the California legislature should bar out-of-state professional athletes from receiving benefits under California workers’ compensation law notwithstanding the fact some athletes who played here suffered cumulative injuries? Or should their own state of employment bear sole responsibility?

It will be interesting to see how the California legislature deals with the push by professional sports teams and their leagues to enact such limiting legislation.

Our California Injury Attorneys provide FREE LEGAL CONSULTATIONS for workers’ compensation and personal injury claims, and we have handled thousands of injury and wrongful death claims, including car accident cases, resulting from negligence or other unsafe and dangerous actions and conditions throughout Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley and all of California. Should you or anyone you care about suffer any injury due to a work related accident, car or motorcycle accident, premises liability accident or the fault of another, please let us know as soon as possible so we may assist your family and you with proper investigation, preservation of evidence, medical care and financial recovery. You may contact us at any time for an absolutely FREE consultation.

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