Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Workers' Comp Blitz May Cost #NFL

Front-page at today's Los Angeles Times, "NFL workers' comp victory comes at a price":
Publicity from a fight over state law prompts players across the country to file more than 1,000 injury claims before a September deadline; that could cost top pro sports leagues hundreds of millions.

Last fall, the National Football League scored a huge victory in California, helping push through a new law barring most professional athletes from filing workers' compensation claims in the state.

But that win has come at a cost.

Publicity from a high-profile battle over the legislation prompted players from around the country to file more than 1,000 injury claims just prior to a September deadline — a huge influx that could cost the nation's top professional sports leagues hundreds of millions of dollars to resolve.

In the first two weeks of September, current and retired players filed 569 claims against NFL franchises, 283 claims against Major League Baseball clubs, 113 against National Hockey League teams and 79 against NBA squads, a Los Angeles Times analysis of state workers' compensation data found.

Nearly 70% of the filings include allegations of head or brain injuries caused by repetitive trauma. Most of these athletes appeared to have never played for a California team; they filed claims based on repetitive injuries they say were sustained in part during road games played in the state. It is those claims that are now barred under the new California law.

Among the athletes rushing to beat the deadline were sports legends such as Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer and Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon, as well as many lesser-known retirees, some suffering serious physical impairment. A number of active players, including San Francisco 49ers standouts Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore, also filed claims.

The six sports leagues affected by the new law — a group that includes Major League Soccer and the Women's NBA — had predicted a jump in filings before the deadline. Still, the size of the increase was surprising. The volume of claims in September was about 10 times higher than average monthly levels since 2011...
Keep reading.