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Florida Professional Athletes Affected By New Workers Compensation Law

In January 2011, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) released a report titled, “Dangers of the Game of Football.”  In the report, the NFLPA wrote that injuries went from 3.2 per week to 3.7 per week in 2010.  Further, 63% of NFL players were injured during the 2010 season compared to a 59% average from 2002-2009.  Of those injuries, 13% ended up putting a player on injured reserve.

Injuries are certainly part of the game in the NFL and other professional sports in the United States.  For a long time, professional athletes who were playing for teams based in Florida, but injured while playing a game outside of the state, were able to take advantage of a loophole that allowed those players to seek workers compensation claims in other states.  Injured athletes would take advantage of this loophole to file claims in states with workers compensation laws that were much more preferable than Florida’s.  The Orlando Sentinel provides as great example:

From the inception of the Jaguars in 1995 through 2009, the franchise has played only five of its 224 games in California. Yet 95 percent of the team’s workers-compensation claims have been in California, where workers-comp laws are more favorable for employees.

This will all change when Florida Governor Rick Scott signs a passed bill that will prevent Florida workers from pursuing workers compensation claims in other states when they are injured while temporarily working outside of Florida.  Temporary work is defined as working outside of Florida for 10 days in a row or less, or working outside of the state for less than 25 days in a calendar year.  Further, the law will only apply in states that have adopted similar legislation.

The professional sports franchises in Florida are strong supporters of the legislation; players associations are not so thrilled with it.

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