New legislation restricts the ability of most professional athletes and former athletes seeking to file injury claims in California, including former NFL players suffering brain injuries. California Gov. Jerry Brown in October signed legislation that severely restricts workers’ compensation claims by pro athletes. It’s a big win for the National Football League; it reduces the league’s exposure to thousands of claims by out-of-state players who are now ineligible to file in California.
Supporters of the new law said greedy athletes were taking advantage of California’s workers’ compensation system. Critics, however, charge that the new law lets affluent teams and their insurers avoid responsibility for those hurt on the job. Melissa Brown, a Sacramento attorney, told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a sellout to the billionaire owners.”
Over 3,400 workers’ compensation claims have been filed in California by retired NFL players since 2006. Many are claims for head injuries, brain injuries, and associated neurological conditions. Some of football’s biggest names – Earl Campbell and Deion Sanders, for example – are among those who have claimed head injuries.
Under the new law, workers’ compensation claims will only be permitted from athletes who played on a California team for at least two complete seasons. Additionally, athletes with seven or more full seasons playing outside California cannot file a workers’ compensation claim, even if they have the two full seasons in California.
Since most workers aren’t professional athletes, if you are injured in a workplace accident in California, you’ll probably have a much easier time filing for workers’ compensation. The smartest move for anyone injured on the job is to speak as quickly as possible with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. A good workers’ comp lawyer will defend your rights and fight to win every cent of compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured at work, it’s in your interest to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away.