Professional athletes earn their livings by playing sports, which carries a high risk of injury. Sports-related injuries may be career-ending or result in a loss or reduction of income.
Pro athletes injured during a match, game, or tournament in NY state can file for NY workers’ compensation, regardless of whether they play for a NY-based club.
NY Workers’ Compensation
NY Workers’ compensation provides wage replacement and medical benefits to workers injured on the job in NY. Your for-profit employer is required to hold workers’ compensation insurance to cover workers injured on the job.
The compensation covers your injury-related medical expenses and travel to your medical appointments. You are also eligible to receive ⅔ your average weekly wage not to exceed the state maximum on the day of the accident.
Paying for Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Your employer shouldn’t charge you for the insurance, and there shouldn’t be copays for your medical expenses. If you choose to engage an attorney to receive this compensation, you’ll pay your attorney with your wage-replacement benefits.
How to Handle an On-the-Job Injury
If you’re injured playing for your professional sports team, taking the right steps can ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
You should seek medical treatment immediately following your injury. Be sure to save documentation from your treatment to help with future claims. This goes without saying to professional athletes, but you should tell your coach about your injury as soon as possible.
You can begin your claim by filing a C-3 form with the Workers’ Compensation board.
Workers’ Compensation for Out-of-State Claimants
NY has a history of honoring workers’ compensation claims for out-of-state based claimants. In the 1965 Rutledge v Al G Kelly And Miller Bros Circus case, the claimant from the Oklahoma-based, Arkansas-hired circus was found to be employed in NY when the injury occurred.
In the 1966 Linton v North Am Van Lines case, Linton, based in Indiana, was paralyzed operating a tractor-trailer in NY. Even though he had already filed for workers’ compensation in Indiana, he was awarded NY workers’ compensation because the Indiana benefits were less extensive than those in NY.
Rethink Your Contract
Even if your sports contract requires you to file for workers’ compensation benefits in a state other than NY, NY doesn’t find these contracts binding, so you may be eligible for NY workers’ compensation benefits.
O’Connor PLLC has successfully represented minor league baseball players injured in NY, and we are confident we can help you also get the compensation you deserve.
Pro Athletes and Repetitive Stress Injuries
If you play a contact sport professionally, you’re at risk for traumatic injuries that happen in a flash. Regardless of what type of sport you play, you’re also at risk of developing a repetitive stress injury.
These injuries develop slowly over time and often go initially undiagnosed when athletes write their pain off as simply muscle soreness or fatigue. For this reason, it can be tricky to get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve if you suffer from a repetitive stress injury, even though these injuries may still result in loss of income and medical expenses.
To file a successful claim, you’ll need to prove that your injury was the result of playing or training for your professional team.
Professional athletes are at especial risk for the following repetitive stress injuries:
This painful joint condition is caused by inflammation of the bursa sacs, which contain fluid that lubricates your joint motions.
Excessive bending and lifting, ill-fitting equipment, or suffering repeated, small collisions can result in chronic back pain that impairs your ability to play your sport.
Tiny tears in the tendons in your elbow are common overuse injuries among professional tennis players.
Repetitive stress can cause inflammation in your tendons that cause pain in your wrist, finger, Achilles, thighs, or other parts of your body.
A dull ache or stiffness in your shoulder may be a sign of rotator cuff syndrome, characterized by the tendons in your shoulder being compressed or trapped when you move your shoulder.
See your team trainer or a medical professional as soon as you feel symptoms of a repetitive stress injury. You’ll be better able to back up your claim if you’ve documented the injury’s progression over time. Retaining the help of an attorney to help you file a claim or appeal a denial can also help you get the compensation you deserve.
Sports-Related Injury for Non-Professional Athletes
If you’re an amateur or hobby athlete, you’re still at risk for sustaining a sports-related injury. Even if your injury results in a loss of wages, non-professional athletes can’t file for workers’ compensation, as these injuries were not sustained on the job.
What’s more, you can’t sue for your sports-related injury unless your injury is a result of intentional conduct or reckless behavior, because when you participate in an athletic event, you understand, or “assume, your risk of injury”.
You do retain the right to sue if you’re injured intentionally by another player or if another player injured you during his or her reckless behavior. Reckless behavior adds a layer of risk to the sporting activity that you wouldn’t have reasonably assumed when you participated in the sporting event.
The Bottom Line
Injury and illness can be especially damaging to professional athletes, who risk their health to play a sport that requires physical fitness. NY Workers’ compensation covers all professional athletes injured on-the-job in NY.
A lawyer who focuses in workers’ compensation is a resource you want in your corner when you file or appeal workers’ compensation claims and decisions. Contact O’Connor PLLC at (914) 595-4502 for a free consultation to learn how our law firm can help you.