California awarding athletes millions in workers’ comp

February 25, 2013
Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin

Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin

California has awarded approximately $747 million to former professional athletes in workers’ compensation claims since the 1980s. [LA Times]

An August study commissioned by major professional sports leagues determined that about 4,500 players received the total payout of nearly $750 million. Employers, not California taxpayers, must pay the workers’ compensation settlements.

Several former pro football players have received six figure settlements in California despite making millions of dollars while working elsewhere.

Former Denver Broncos running back and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, Terrell Davis, received a $199,000 injury settlement from a California workers’ compensation court in 2011. Davis was employed in Colorado at the time of the injury, and only played nine of his 88 career games in California.

Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin received $249,000 from a California workers’ compensation court despite playing his entire career for the Dallas Cowboys.

Some athletes who have received workers’ compensation settlements in California have played as few as one game in the state. Anyone who was employed in the state for any amount of time is eligible to receive benefits from the $12-billion workers’ compensation system.

Athletes across sports and across the country are submitting workers’ compensation claims in California, even long after they retire because the statute of limitations is much more lax than in other states. Team owners argue that the system is flawed, not only because of the large settlements awarded to out of state players, but also because they have no idea when a retired player might submit a claim.

“The system if completely out of whack right now,” said Jeff Gewirtz, vice president of the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets.

 


19 Comments

  1. The Gimlet Eye says:

    Ain’t it great livin’ in a socialist state?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  2. SLOBIRD says:

    All sports players (baseball, basketball, football, etc.) who play in California pay State Income Tax. We actually have people working at the Franchise Tax Agency that attend the games and keep track of individual players that play in each game, even if they throw just one pitch or toss one ball, they then owe tax to California for each game they participate in. Therefore, they are also entitled to their State benefits (including Worker’s Comp – I am assuming the teams pay the State Worker’s Comp fees as well).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • abigchocoholic says:

      In addition to each one of these athlete paying into the worker’s comp system just like anyone else, I’m not sure what the point of the article is. Maybe just to inflame people? Whichever way?

      Just speaking about football, anyone who knows ex pro players sees a whole different side of it. For the overwhelming majority of these guys, they were just army ants. The average pro career is something like 3 years and they come away badly injured. Sure, they make incredible money for those 3 years but after it’s all over they spend the rest of their lives replacing joints and dealing with pain and brain damage. It can be pretty miserable.

      People don’t generally know this but OJ was severely brain damaged from taking hits to his head in his pro football career. It turned him into a murderer and robber. Junior Sau immediately comes to mind too. And there’s thousands more since the 70s who are still alive and living severely debilitated lives—all so your average brainless American can waste half his weekend screaming at a TV set.

      And don’t even get me started on boxing or MMA. Anyone who’s ever seen Mohamed Ali or Evander Hollyfield or maybe even knows our local guy Chuck Liddell knows what happens to fighters.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Pelican1 says:

        The point of the article is that many of these players did not play in California long enough to warrant such payouts. Workman’s comp is administered by each state. These athletes are filing claims in California because they have laws that aff1ord big pay outs despite the level of contribution…which seems unfair to the taxpayers.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • abigchocoholic says:

          then I need more detail. How much does the NFL pay into the worker’s comp system and how much has it paid into the system? That’s a pretty big payroll the NFL has and very high injury rate so what’s the insurance premiums for that? How do I know that the CA worker’s comp system hasn’t made a killing off NFL teams over the years?

          Just saying something like Terrell Davis got 300k doesn’t tell me anything. What if the NFL has put in 10s of millions over the years? Add interest on to that and maybe the NFL is more than carrying its weight in the system.

          Again, it’s all about information. Without it, we’re just blowing hot air.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Pelican1 says:

    Welcome to the Golden State…the land of opportunity. Welcome to the latest California gold rush, where our laws encourage waste, fraud, and abuse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  4. danika says:

    This is a classic example of why MANY insurance carriers do NOT write in California.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  5. Rambunctious says:

    Just another reason for turning off pro sports.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

    • tomsquawk says:

      and youchers will start tuning in opera

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

    • r0y says:

      You have your freedom to do so, and not support them in any way.

      I’ll keep watching the games, as is my right.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  6. r0y says:

    Another interesting (off-topic, sort of) point regarding pro athletes is that they pay state income tax if they play even one game in that state. This is why many (if not most) have tax issues, as they may need to file in ten or twenty states as well as fed.

    So even though some of these guys were NOT on a California-based team, their playing a game here (i.e. Dallas at S.F.) will require them to pay income tax to CA, as the “work” was done in California for that game.

    …and both the Ravens and the 49ers will be paying Louisiana state tax due to the superbowl being held in ‘Nawlinz’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    • kayaknut says:

      Given what even the base-line salary is they certainly could afford a tax person to take care of things, my guess is the ones that are having tax issues do things not on the up and up and then get caught

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    Ah another case of the Golden State being HOSED by outside parties. We are generous with anything welfare or compensatory related. Why don’t we just tell the rest of the country and world, COMON DOWN, because the liberals and uninformed in this state will give away everything!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  8. fat chance says:

    What a joke…….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  9. tomsquawk says:

    what happened to the players union sharing any responsibility?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

    • kayaknut says:

      Unions are never at fault don’t you know……private or public sector

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 5

      • tomsquawk says:

        i know; shoulda joined one

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

        • kayaknut says:

          I just wish those that pay for the unions have a vote on benefits paid out

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

          • bobfromsanluis says:

            But, you do. If you belong to a union, when there is a contract negotiation bargained with the employer, the union leadership is required to present the new contract to the membership for them to vote on it, yes or no, accept it or turn in down. If your union negotiates a contract without allowing for a member vote, then vote out the leadership of the union and replace them with fellow members who will run the union to the benefit of the worker.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

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