Bengals Petition for Reconsideration of Carroll Case

When non-resident professional athletes tried to file for worker's compensation in California, a debate involving California Compensation Law and professional sports began. Supporters of the athletes argue that because the athletes work and pay taxes in California for the games that they play there, they should be entitled to receive worker's comp benefits. Opponents, on the other hand, argue that many players never lived in California and only rarely worked in the state, so they do not have a sufficient nexus to get worker's compensation. Furthermore, if retired professional athletes all tried to file worker's compensation claims in California, it would bankrupt the state. This issue was recently decided in the following case:

Almost two decades ago, former pro football player Wesley Carroll, incurred serious injuries to numerous parts of his body that caused 46% permanent disability. These injuries were sustained while he was playing for the New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals. Since Carroll had been injured during some of his games in California, he filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits in the state. Though he never resided in California nor was employed by a California company, he argued that he was temporarily working in California, and therefore he could receive benefits.

In their defense, the Cincinnati Bengals used CA Labor Code §3600.5(b), which allowed worker's comp exemption for certain employees that were hired outside of California and met the following criteria:

  • Temporarily working in California
  • Covered by worker's comp laws of another's state while in California
  • Same state recognizes California's extraterritorial provisions
  • Same state exempts California's laws because its own worker's comp law applies

Though the Bengals were insured in Ohio and Ohio recognizes the extra-territorial provisions of California, the Worker's Compensation Judge did not accept the defense, ruling that Carroll was actually regularly employed in California, because the teams came to California as a part of a regular schedule. The Bengals then were not exempt for paying worker's comp benefits.

The Bengals petitioned for reconsideration of the findings to an appeals board. When brought to the Worker's Compensation Appeals Board, however, they found that an athlete playing a single game in California was working temporarily, or lasting for a limited time. The judge's decision was therefore, rescinded, as the Bengals and the applicant met all the necessary requirements of CA Labor Code §3600.5(b). The case is now returned to trial.

To read the full case, please click here.

If you have any questions about worker's compensation or any other personal injury matter, then please obtain legal counsel from Chico injury lawyer, Adam Sorrells. He has more than 20 years of experience that he will use for your benefit. Contact his firm as soon as you can to get started. Not only does he offer a free case evaluation, but he won't charge a cent unless you recover compensation. Call now!

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