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California may limit workers' compensation for athletes

There are numerous professional athletic teams in our state. There are football teams, baseball teams, hockey teams, soccer teams and basketball teams from all over the country may have played games here each season. Under current California law, athletes that have ever played a game in our state may file workers' compensation claims for "cumulative" injuries.

This "cumulative trauma" could include head injuries sustained over and over throughout the career of a professional athlete. Claims can be filed even after an athlete's career is over. A bill currently before the Governor of California would close this loophole in the state's workers' compensation laws.

The bill has already been through the California House and Senate and has now been sent to the Governor for his signature. The Governor will have until Oct. 13 to either sign the bill or veto it. The owners of professional teams have been behind the bill from the beginning. On the contrary, the AFL-CIO and the NFL Player's Association have opposed the bill.

There has been some 4,400 workers' compensation claims filed by former professional athletes under the current law since 2006. The disposition of those claims is not known. It is true that professional athletes sustain injuries during their careers, and many of those injuries were repeatedly sustained. However, the argument is that just because those players may have played a handful of games in California, that doesn't necessarily make it fair that they are able to file workers' compensation claims in our state.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Bill limiting workers' comp claims by athletes is sent to governor, Marc Lifsher, Sept. 9, 2013

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