Sunday the Chicago Bears lost to the Denver Broncos who were not lead by future hall of famer and all time passing leader Peyton Manning.
Manning sat out with numerous injuries that lead in his last game to throw four interceptions in just 20 passes. He only completed one more pass to his teammates than he did to the other team. He looked like he was done. And he might be. In the past he’s had a ton of injuries, the most severe of which was a neck injury that lead to a cervical fusion of his vertebrae. That’s a major, major surgery and it’s quite remarkable that he came back to play at all after that.
I can’t think of a “regular” job that involves someone getting hit hard on a weekly basis by huge men where a doctor would advise a patient that they should return to that job. While NFL players do receive workers’ compensation benefits, the standard for them is definitely different than it is for other workers in terms of getting benefits or not.
That said, if Peyton was playing for the Bears or had been injured playing in Chicago, under Illinois law the moment that he stopped playing he would likely be eligible for wage differential benefits as it’s a certainty that a doctor could credibly testify that he shouldn’t do his normal job and it’s also a certainty that he can’t go out and get a new job making similar money.
Now Peyton chose this road and made over $100 million in his career so it’s not a relevant point for him. But it is relevant for someone who hasn’t had his career and the truth is that most NFL players make it for a year or two. There is a rookie on the Bears named Anthony Jefferson who broke his arm against the Browns earlier this year. Maybe he’ll return to have a great career. If so, he’d still be entitled to some sort of settlement for his broken arm. Maybe the arm injury is so serious that a doctor tells him he can’t play again or it prevents him from making a roster. In that case he’s likely to be eligible for a large wage differential payment. I can’t tell you exactly what it would be worth, but it would be in the hundreds of thousands.
So you are probably thinking, “This is great, but what does it have to do with me?” Well, if you are injured at work in a major way or have a job which is likely to continue to make your injury re-occur or get worse, you might be in the same boat as these NFL players. If that’s happening to you, you should talk to us or another reputable Illinois work comp law firm to know your rights and to know what to ask your doctor about your career.
If your doctor thinks that it’s a good idea for you to avoid the type of work that you are doing, you are not left out in the cold under Illinois law (and boy has it been cold lately). You are entitled to help looking for work within your restrictions and if a new job doesn’t pay as well as the old one, you get compensated for that.
This certainly is more common with older workers, but it happens with younger ones too. Years ago I represented a 20 something year old construction worker who injured his feet on the job site. His normal job required him to regularly lift up to 100 pounds and work on uneven pavement. The uneven pavement lead to multiple re-injuries and ultimately caused his doctor to state that he should do a different type of work. He could still work construction, but not the kind he was used to.
This all lead eventually to a mid six figure settlement and a better work life for him.
Of course ideally you’ll never get this severely injured. However, just as it looks like Peyton Manning should stop doing his normal job, if your job is putting you at risk, there are safeguards in place for you.
To speak with an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer, call us at (312) 346-5578 or complete the contact form online. We are here to help people who have been injured anywhere in the state of Illinois.