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New California workers' compensation bill affects athletes

Professional athletes are often signed with an agency or team manages their insurance, benefits and workers' compensation concerns. Unfortunately, the law varies in many states, which can create hurdles for athletes who have become injured while outside of their home state. Recently, California lawmakers have been working diligently to create new laws that would help define the way that such workers' compensation issues are managed in our state.

A.B. 1309 is the title of the bill that is working its way through the California government. The bill is designed to prevent out-of-state athletes from receiving workers' compensation benefits when only a small amount of time was actually spent on-the-job in our state. According to one lawmaker, there are approximately 4,000 such claims currently open in California that could cost as much as $1 billion. Since 2002, the California Insurance Guarantee Association has paid more than $41 million in claims made by professional athletes.

The proposed law is designed to be fair, providing a clause that the out-of-state athlete must work a certain percentage of their "duty days" in California or to a California-based team in order to qualify for filing a claim. Currently, the bill states that no less than 20 percent be worked in state or for an in-state team. Further, the athlete must not have worked for an out-of-state team for more than seven seasons. The overarching goal of the proposed bill is to ensure that workers' compensation laws in our state are fair for all workers and businesses alike.

Sustaining an injury on-the-job can be devastating no matter what industry one works for. Fortunately, California does have laws in place to help protect both workers and their employers from unfair treatment if a workers' compensation claim is filed. Most individuals sustaining a work injury will find it beneficial to seek their legal rights and secure the proper assistance to guide them through the process of filing a claim. Every individual and injury is unique, therefore every claim requires an individualized approach to securing the best outcome possible.

Source: riskandinsurance.com, California closes loophole for WC benefits for out-of-state athletes, Nancy Grover, Dec. 16, 2013

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