California Bill Proposes Ban On Certain Retired Athletes Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Orange County Employment Attorney - Proposed Ban On Certain Retired Athletes Receiving Workers' Comp BenefitsOrange County Employment Attorney: Orange County’s injured athletes might need to return home. The proposal, AB 1309, was unveiled last week by Assembly Insurance Committee Chairman Henry Perea (D-Fresno). The bill will effectively ban professional sport team players who work outside of California from filing for workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries. Proponents of this ban include owners of baseball, hockey, football, basketball and soccer teams.

Perea says, “It’s a question of fairness.” There will be debate over whether retired players’ claims are an abuse of California’s workers’ compensation system when they are out-of-state and rarely play games in California during their careers. Workers’ compensation is funded solely by employers and it is possible that they will have to pay surcharges and higher premiums unaccounted for by insurance companies.

Richard Berthelsen, an attorney with the National Football League Players Association said that argument of cost was false. Athletes basically pay for their own compensation and benefits; a proportion is calculated from their salaries to pay for their own insurance.

The bill would only affect those from the more prominent sports and it would ban the claims for cumulative trauma, that is, damage over the long term. The claimant would have to have worked 90 days the year before seeking compensation for cumulative trauma.

Thousands of out-of-state athletes and many pending claims of out-of-state athletes would be affected if this bill passes.

Labor officials argue that limiting these regulations to only certain players could be unfair. Angie Wei, legislative director of the California Labor Federation, believes that even if they play out-of-state, “these players are workers and they deserve to have access to their benefits. They work for short durations of time at an intense level and get injured.”

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