Where is Workers’ Compensation for Pro Football Head Injuries?

December 28, 2011 Insurance Topics 0
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Where is workers’ comp for pro football head injuries?
This is a question I explore in my Claims Advisor magazine article, More Buck for the Bang.

During my research and interviews, it was hard to get one simple question answered. That is: if workers’ compensation is the no-fault exclusive remedy for work-related injuries and occupational illnesses, why the class action suits?

My article, published in late 2011, is the only attempt I know of that tries to make sense of this.

Pro football head injuries should be covered by workers’ comp, but players would only receive a pittance of compensation. Financially, class action lawsuits seem to be a better bet. However, the long-term medical benefits under workers’ comp might be better for athletes.

Another part of the problem is that the workers’ compensation system still struggles with addressing cumulative trauma and soft tissue injuries — especially those that do not seem to show adverse effects until years later.

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if workers’ compensation is the no-fault exclusive remedy
for work-related injuries and occupational illnesses, why the class action suits?
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In the 1990s, many states put limitations on occupational disease claims. On a practical level, comp costs would have been insane if any worker could come back to an employer — even decades later — and ask for medical and cash compensation. On the other hand, employers have risk exposure in cases like these because workers’ comp’s no-fault reach is limited.

The blame game taking place on who is really responsible for pro football head injuries and the long-term ramifications is exhausting. Going there still makes my head spin.
Employers of dangerous occupations attract criticism from unions for treating workers as collateral damage. But is our society doing the same with its athletes? Looking at this from a different view, why should pro football players have the option to sue when everyone else has to accept workers’ comp?

Note: This groundbreaking article took a serious look into pro athlete concussions from a workers’ comp perspective. Claims Advisor is now owned by a new publisher.