When relocating, businesses consider many factors, including workers’ comp premiums
Punter’s benefits award overturns longstanding precept
We’ve covered workers’ comp issues in the NFL before, most recently in a piece last month, but the main issue before has been players who file for workers’ comp benefits in the state where they were injured rather than in team’s home state. They do so because the “away-state” offers better benefits than the “home-state.”
Now another issue has arisen, in the case of a former punter for the Washington Redskins. A recent court decision has upended 30 years’ of NFL and legal tradition.
According to a March 10 press release, “Former Washington Redskins punter Thomas Tupa, who suffered a career-ending back injury while warming up for a preseason game in 2005, is eligible to receive workers’ compensation under Maryland law, the state’s court ruled Feb. 28, 2011. Attorneys Benjamin T. Boscolo and Gerry Herz of ChasenBoscolo Injury Lawyers represented Tupa in this landmark case. (No. 09-1839, Pro Football Inc. v. Thomas Tupa, Maryland Court of Special Appeals).
” ‘For almost 30 years, the Court ruled injuries suffered by NFL players were not accidental injuries, stating professional football players were not entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits because they assumed the risk of such injuries,’ said Boscolo, who has been handling the firm’s sports-related cases since 2000. ‘The Court’s recent decision overturned this longstanding precedent as being contrary to the very purpose of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act.’ ”
Venue of game re-appeared, as side issue
The other issue, that is, where games are played, did arise during the process, as the case bounced from commission hearings to county court to appellate court. According to a March 5 article in the Washington Examiner:
Tupa in 2007 originally filed a claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission requesting benefits, the documents state. The Redskins were ordered by the commission to pay partial disability as well as medical expenses.
When the team appealed the decision, court documents show that the NFL team argued that Maryland didn’t have the jurisdiction to award Tupa workers’ compensation because he was hired to play in Virginia, where the team’s headquarters and practice field are located.
But the appeals court was not swayed, pointing out that game days are in Maryland: “It is clear that the purpose of Tupa’s employment was to play in games, not to practice.”
Appellate court agreed with county court
A March 10 post at a trade Web site, Injury Board says that “Tupa claimed to have hurt his back warming up at FedEx Field in 2005. The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld a 2009 Prince George’s County Circuit Court jury’s award to Tupa, who says he injured his lower back before a Redskins preseason game at the team’s Landover stadium. Pro-Football Inc., the corporation that operates the Washington Redskins, appealed the jury award by arguing that there’s no connection between Tupa’s 2005 injury and any ongoing disability he still claims.
“Tupa has not played football since hurting his back; the punter has testified that he still needs back surgery. “It is undisputed that he is physically unable to punt in the NFL,” the appeals court wrote. Court records state that the Prince George’s County jury awarded Tupa just over a year’s worth of disability benefits.”
I have a sneaking feeling that all these workers’ comp issues will be addressed in whatever agreement finally ensues from the current battle between the NFL owners and players.
Back to the regular world…
Rhode Island AG fights to rein in workers’ comp premiums
All states and local governments compete for new business, in one way or another. Most want growth–even if their natural resources can’t sustain it–and all need revenue. An undeniable factor in the mix for businesses choosing to relocate is a given state’s cost of workers’ comp premiums.
The Great Recession has affected not only the disability network but also workers’ comp.
We posted the following in September 2010: “In the Northeast, workers comp issues are making headlines via reduced claims in Rhode Island and price hikes in New York, while an unrelated study suggests that impairment ratings for injured workers are often wrong, most often erring on the side of the patient. On one hand, the company that performed the study has a history of similar findings; on the other, the cumulative effect could be bad news for both employees and employers.”
A March 11 post at Insurance Journal says, “Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said he opposed a 3.9 percent workers’ comp rate hike being sought by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) for the state.
“NCCI’s calculations call for a 3.9 percent increase for advisory loss costs for workers’ compensation insurance. But Kilmartin says that an analysis and an independent actuarial study, the rate hike should be rejected. Kilmartin’s office submitted an alternative calculation that calls for an overall increase of 0.6 percent.”
About a week earlier, Business Insurance posted, “Among other problems, the attorney general said Wednesday that the Boca Raton, Fla.-based workers comp rating organization applied an excessive medical trend factor to arrive at its suggested loss-cost rate increase.
“Instead, Mr. Kilmartin said, a 0.6% rate decrease is in order for Rhode Island businesses.”