Football Players and Workers’ Compensation

Black and white photo of football players

Did you know that some professional football players are now eligible for worker’s compensation?
The Court of Appeals of Maryland (Maryland’s highest court) ruled that former N.F.L. punter, Tom Tupa, is eligible for workers’ compensation as a result of an injury sustained on the field, which ultimately ended his career, according to this article, Court Rules for Punter on Injury.
Mr. Tupa’s injury occurred while he was warming up for a preseason game in 2005. According to Mr. Tupa, he was almost done completing his regular warm-ups when he landed “awkwardly” after a punt. He immediately felt a sharp pain in his back. He saw a doctor immediately who concluded that Mr. Tupa had “significant discogenic pain.”
The insurers argued that Mr. Tupa’s injury was “foreseeable and expected” because of the rough nature of football. The court rejected this argument and rather ruled in favor of Mr. Tupa. The court considered evidence which suggested that it was not foreseeable to expect that a routine punting exercise would ultimately result into a career- ending injury. The court further held that Mr. Tupa’s injury was “sudden and unexpected.”

Here in Georgia, there was a case involving former Falcons players seeking to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. Nine former players were seeking workers compensation benefits in California for injuries sustained as a result of playing football for the Falcons. The NFL and Atlanta Falcons sued the injured players in order to hold them to the binding arbitration agreement, for which they would be required to file for workers compensation benefits in Georgia rather than California. The arbitrator assigned to the case ruled in favor of the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons ordering the injured players to cease workers compensation process in California.

So why were the players seeking to obtain workers compensation benefits in California? A New York Times investigation revealed that California is the only state that injured professional athletes may seek workers compensation benefits for injures they sustained in the course of their career.

Regardless of whether or not you play professional football, if you’ve been injured on the job, you deserve compensation. Call me, Nate Hansford, at 770-922-3660 and let’s talk about your situation.