Proposed CA law could harm injured workers

The California legislature is currently considering a bill that would effectively prohibit professional athletes from receiving the benefits of the state’s workers’ compensation scheme. Currently, California is one of only states that allows injured workers to file claims based on cumulative injuries. There is no time limit on workers’ compensation claims, so professional baseball, football, hockey or other sports players have the ability to file in California for injuries that built up over decades. The proposed legislation, Assembly Bill 1309, would impose a time limit on filing for claims that would effectively prohibit these players from getting compensated for their long-term or cumulative injuries.

While many people believe former football players receive lifetime benefits from the National Football League, that is not the case. A player who has worked for at least three seasons is entitled to five years of health insurance following retirement. The average career for an NFL player is only 3.9 years.

Opponents of the law fear that it creates a slippery slope. If professional sports teams are able to limit their liability for injuries incurred on the job, why can’t other employers do the same? The bill is sponsored in part by big business, which has been known for looking at ways to reduce their responsibility to employees. Proponents claim that it will stop taxpayers from having to pay for professional sports injuries, but worker’s compensation is not funded by taxpayer contributions.

California law requires employers to carry insurance to protect injured workers. An attorney can often help negotiate an insurance settlement to compensate injured workers for any lost wages and any long-term or permanent injuries. When an employer fails to carry insurance, an employment law attorney may be able to help obtain additional compensation.

Source: Huffington Post, “The California Bill That Leaves Injured Workers to Fend for Themselves“, Sarita Gupta, June 21, 2013

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