Most employees in America have the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured at work. While this is not a guarantee for all workers, such as the case with domestic employees in the United States, the majority of employers pay workers’ compensation insurance to cover medical expenses and lost wages resulting from an accident at the workplace.
As a general rule, professional athletes are part of the small percentage of workers’ who often find themselves dealing with a denied claim when attempting to receive workers’ compensation. For example, injuries suffered by professional football players were traditionally not covered by workers’ compensation benefits due to the “assumed risk” involved when playing a contact sport. This view may change in the future as a result of a recent case involving ex-Redskin player, Thomas Tupa. After suffering a back injury in 2005 which ended his career, Tupa filed a claim for benefits with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission in 2007. While the state of Maryland upheld his claim, Pro-Football Inc, the company in charge of Redskin management challenged the ruling, claiming Tupa was hired to play in Virginia, therefore the state of Maryland had no jurisdiction in the case.
This case has since been resolved with the Tupa being awarded workers’ compensation benefits in the state of Maryland. As stated in an article appearing on benzinga.com, “The decision contains three significant holding benefiting and protecting professional athletes injured in Maryland.” This is good news for pro athletes who often find themselves sidelined by their very choice of occupation. Despite popular public opinion that all professional athletes are overpaid, there are many who suffer injuries which affect their ability to earn income for the remainder of their lives. Workers’ compensation benefits should be available to all working employees, from domestic workers to professional athletes.