For Athletes, Workers’ Compensation Depends on Location

workers' compensationCan a professional athlete file a workers’ compensation claim?

Well, it depends on where he or she plays.

Dangerous jobs can lead to disability and as a result, prohibit an individual from being able to carry out the work he or she was previously paid for, hence workers’ compensation. Some of the more dangerous jobs around can be found in various professional sports leagues, where players are injured all of the time – sometimes permanently. Depending on where these individuals play, they may be able to file for workers’ compensation should they be seriously injured.

Why their location matters

For example, in California a law bars most professional athletes from filing for workers’ compensation after a now-expired Sept. 15 deadline. The law, passed in 2014, prompted thousands of athletes to file their own claims before the deadline – a move which could end up costing numerous professional leagues “hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the Los Angeles Times. This group of athletes includes legends like former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and storied Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon. Previously, California law allowed athletes who had played road games in the state to file claims – now, after the deadline this is no longer the case.

However, in other states, professional athletes’ workers’ compensation rights are different. The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board Employers’ Handbook, for instance, outlines Empire State-based athletes’ rights when injured. The handbook states that athletic leagues, teams and businesses are all required to carry workers’ compensation insurance policies if they have individuals working in the state of New York. The handbook goes on to list specific positions such as athletes, scouts, and recruiters.

For more information on whether you qualify for workers’ compensation following an injury contact a sports law attorney.

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Anthony R. Caruso is a business transactional attorney in New York and New Jersey with experience in structuring, negotiation and completion of legal deals involving business, entrepreneurs, athletes and performers.

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