California awarding athletes millions in workers’ comp
February 25, 2013
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.