Target: California State Legislature
Goal: Prevent out of state athletes from claiming California Workers’ Compensation
A legal loophole allowing out-of-state athletes to claim workers’ compensation from California is being abused. To combat this, new legislation proposed by Assemblyman Henry Perea aims to deny benefits to players whose teams are not based in the Golden State.
Over the last thirty years, California Workers’ Compensation has awarded millions of dollars to thousands of out-of-state athletes, some of whom have played as little as one game in California. Because of the laxity of California laws, these out-of-state players can be awarded full benefits, while also filing claims in their home states. And because California allows for a much longer timeframe in which to make a claim, some are being filed for games played twenty to thirty years ago.
In a letter to Assemblyman Perea, the California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) stated that of its 1,873 claims from professional athletes, California residents accounted for only 373. While California Workers’ Comp is an employer-funded program, CIGA pays the claims when workers’ comp insurance companies become insolvent. Since 2002, the state guarantee fund has paid $42 million in claims to professional athletes. Usually these benefits are awarded as lump sums, but occasionally they are accompanied by agreements to provide life-time medical services. Currently, CIGA hovers at a deficit of $2 billion. California employers paid $78 million toward reducing that amount last year.
There’s no denying that in their short, intense careers, athletes are prone to injuries and the cumulative effects of trauma. Just as with other California employees, they are entitled to compensation. But California’s system should take care of injured athletes who played the bulk of their time for California teams. It shouldn’t be a loophole used by out-of-state players to receive compensation in lieu of, or in addition to, claims filed in their home states.
Urge the California Legislature to approve Perea’s Assembly Bill 1309 and close this loophole.
Dear California Legislature,
California is known for its generous workers’ compensation system, and athletes injured on the job or suffering the effects of cumulative trauma deserve to be taken care of. Not all athletes are big name players earning cast sums of money, easily able to access the care they need.
But California Workers’ Compensation is being abused, and this needs to end. Out-of-state athletes who have barely played in California are using our generous filing window and lax laws to file claims that award them up to six figures, sometimes twenty to thirty years later. Our California Insurance Guarantee Association already bears a huge deficit, and we cannot afford to be the bank for out-of-state athletes and their lawyers. Please support Perea’s Assembly Bill 1309 which will deny California benefits to players of out-of-state teams.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Steve Pavlov via Wikimedia Commons