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Ex-NFL players go out of state for workers' compensation

Now that the Super Bowl is in the history books, most people are turning their attention to other things. Workers' compensation advocates, however, still have their attention firmly fixed on the NFL. The league's shaky safety record, which has been called into question in recent years, has led to a number of players requesting workers' compensation.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of league contracts, workers' compensation is not always available in each player's home state. For this reason, athletes from many states, including North Carolina, have been applying for benefits in California courts. The Golden State tends to have looser workers' compensation restrictions, meaning players can receive compensation more easily.

This is true even if a player never even played for a California team. If, for example, a player spent his career working for the Carolina Panthers, but played a few games in San Diego, he could sue for workers' compensation in California. This is because California law does not require players to prove that a particular injury was sustained within state lines; the court accepts claims based on the cumulative "wear and tear" received throughout an athletic career.

So, even if an athlete only played in California once, he or she could sue for workers' compensation there. Lawmakers call it a "loophole," one that is currently being used by approximately 3,000 ex-NFL players. California lawmakers say it is an abuse of state resources, and have vowed to take steps to prevent it during this legislative session.

Professional athletes have a very hazardous job, and they should not have to resort to filing in another state to receive compensation for their injuries. Just like all other employees, athletes are entitled to financial assistance whenever they are injured in the workplace, whether it occurs on a football field or on a factory floor.

Source: KABC-TV, "NFL players can file for CA workers' comp thanks to loophole," John Hartung, Feb. 1, 2013

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