Boston Worker’s Compensation and Injury Blog

Are Professional Athletes Entitled to Workers

If you are a professional athlete who has been injured during training or other working conditions expected of you, you might be wondering whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation or not.

Workers’ compensation benefits for professional athletes can be a complicated matter. Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not be eligible for these benefits. If the injury in question is serious, the best thing to do is to consult a workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible.

Workers’ Comp Eligibility for Professional Athletes

Most employees are entitled to workers’ comp benefits. These benefits are meant to cover lost wages and medical expenses for injured workers so that they can keep living a normal life. Under normal circumstances, it is clear whether workers’ comp is available to employees who get hurt or suffer an illness because of work-related activities, but does this also apply to professional athletes?

When people think of dangerous professions, construction and related jobs come to mind. However, professional athletes often face more hazards. In fact, professional athletes tend to have surprisingly high injury rates despite the many safety measures in place.

Professional athletes are well compensated for their hard work and enjoy many perks that people in other professions do not. But when they get seriously hurt, many find that the compensation or medical benefits available to them are simply not enough.

Whether professional athletes can get workers’ comp benefits or not is a complicated matter and varies from state to state. For example, in Massachusetts, there is a provision that states that anyone employed to be part of organized professional athletics while receiving payment during a period of disability resulting from said employment is excluded. This appears to shut the door for workers’ comp benefits for professional athletes.

However, this has been legally interpreted to apply only if the athlete continues to play and receives wages. This means that athletes who are in rehabilitation and without pay can apply for workers’ comp benefits like all other employees.

Workers’ compensation benefits might be an option for you but the process to get this going and approved can be daunting. An experienced attorney who focuses on these types of cases can take a look at all the facts and help you determine whether you are entitled to these benefits or not and how to go about getting them.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation

Understanding workers’ comp benefits is crucial for employees in any profession where serious injury might be just around the corner. With few exceptions, employees are entitled to these benefits when they suffer a work-related injury or illness. Insurance companies will usually approve a claim if the injury is relatively minor and the employer agrees that it occurred at work.

Things can get difficult when insurance companies realize they stand to lose a lot of money and more so when it is not clear whether the “employee” even has a right to these benefits, such as is the case with professional athletes.

Workers’ comp is a no-fault insurance program system that compensates employees for injuries or illnesses sustained from normal activities on the job. This means that the employee does not have to prove that the employer is at fault for the injury or illness in question.
However, employees who claim workers’ compensation benefits give up certain rights such as pain and suffering and punitive damages that are often available in personal injury cases.

While laws and regulations vary from state to state, the two major requirements for workers’ compensation to be approved are that the injury or illness be work-related and that the injured party be an employee. Under normal circumstances, self-employed individuals or independent contractors are not eligible. These two requirements can be argued if the injured individual is a professional athlete.

Some of the workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to include:

Medical Costs

This is usually the most significant benefit since medical expenses can be economically crippling depending. This includes doctor’s appointments, surgery, medications, physical and mental rehabilitation, and medical equipment such as a wheelchair or crutches.

Lost Wages

On top of medical expenses, lost wages weigh heavily on injured workers. These benefits are usually two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wage.
Permanent or Temporary Disabilities

Work-related injuries can lead to temporary or permanent disabilities that keep people from going back to work for a significant period of time or even never at all. These benefits can be complicated to determine but a workers’ compensation attorney will be able to do so.

Death Benefits for Dependents

Unfortunately, work-related injuries can lead to death. When this tragedy occurs, dependents are entitled to benefits.
Since athletes who meet certain criteria can claim workers’ compensation, all of these benefits are available to them. But the process is complex and figuring out how much monetary compensation may be awarded can be a daunting task.

What Can a Workers’ Comp Attorney Do for You?

If you are an athlete who has suffered significant injuries and you want to claim workers’ comp benefits, the road ahead will be a bumpy one. The best thing that you can do is present all the facts of your case to an experienced lawyer who will be able to assess the situation properly and advise you accordingly.
Once your attorney gets to know the specifics of your case, the first task will be to have you recognized as an employee. Remember that this is the first requirement to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

These are some of the characteristics that government agencies such as the IRS utilize to recognize workers as employees:

  • The worker, or athlete in your case, does not decide where or when to perform his job.
  • The worker exercises no control over the financial side of the business.
  • The worker gets normal employment benefits such as vacation pay and health insurance.

Once your status as an employee has been established, the next hurdle will be to prove that the injury or illness in question is work-related. After that, your workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to fight for your rights and the benefits you deserve.

Schedule a Free Consultation

A professional athlete who suffers an injury may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. To determine whether this applies to you or not, we have to examine all the facts of your case. The first step is to schedule a free consultation ASAP.

Call us at the Law Office of Robert E Frawley at (617) 523-2929.

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