Colorado sports enthusiasts and athletes know that football is a sport that is high action, intense, and highly physical. It is not uncommon for players to get injured on the field. But what happens when an accident occurs off the field, and a player is injured as a result of the exercise they are performing? According to one state, the player may be eligible to seek workers' compensation benefits.
One state's highest court recently ruled that an ex-NFL punter would be eligible for workers' compensation benefits following an injury he sustained preseason during a warm up game. A Redskins punter, Tom Tupa, sustained a back injury in 2005 which led to his leaving the NFL immediately following due to his injuries. Since 2006 he has been working through the court system to seek workers' compensation benefits.
After a lengthy battle between insurers and team officials, the Maryland court ruled that the injury was compensable, as it was sustained in the course of Tupa's employment. In 2008, Tupa was awarded disability benefits; however, the court battle did not end until recently when the Maryland court decided the outcome. The court ruled that simply because football is a rough sport, does not mean that accidents causing injury should not be considered as such. This case could be precedential for NFL players, or other athletes, who have been injured but may have been unable to seek workers' compensation benefits.
Depending upon state law, Colorado athletes may find that they are also eligible for workers' compensation if they are injured in the course of their employment. While many athletes have contracts with the teams they represent, state law may overrule the language in the contract. Any athlete who is injured in an accident similar to the one in this case may gain by asking questions and investigating their rights. Having the ability to claim workers' compensation benefits may make a huge difference for the family of an injured athlete.
Source: wwlp.com, "Court: Ex-NFL punter eligible for workers comp," Aug. 22, 2012