The Chicago Bulls aren’t going to be great this year and a bad season was made worse recently when two players got in to a fight. Bobby Portis punched Nikola Mirotic in the face, breaking numerous bones and reportedly giving him a concussion. Mirotic will miss at least the first six weeks of the season and Portis was suspended for eight games.
Because the fight happened during practice and because it presumably was over something related to basketball (e.g. their job), Mirotic would have a good workers’ compensation claim in Illinois. It’s a big year for him and if he can’t get back to his normal self it will cost him millions as he’s a free agent after this year. So the question is, can Mirotic sue Portis?
In general, you can’t sue an employer or co-worker for a work related accident. So if Jan in accounting spills her Diet Coke on the floor, doesn’t clean it up and then you slip on it, you won’t be able to sue Jan or your company. You can only get work comp benefits. The exception would be that you can sue when it’s an intentional act.
So in this case, I do think that Nikola can sue Bobby if he wants, but not the Bulls themselves. They had nothing to do with this, but even if it was in the heat of the moment, it does appear that this was an intentional act by Portis.
Because of the possible damage to his career, the personal injury case could be worth way more than the work comp case. That said, just as we consider your relationship with your employer when we handle your case, if we were representing Mirotic, we’d advise him to hold off filing a lawsuit until after the season is over and we learn what sort of contract he’s able to get. We wouldn’t want him to be retaliated against for bringing a case. That happens way more in the professional sports world than it does with normal employers.
We don’t write this blog for NBA players, we write it for laborers, teachers, flight attendants, CNA’s and all others who have what we’d consider to be normal, salt of the earth jobs. But it’s important to know that the law doesn’t change just because you get paid to play a game.
Any questions about anything related to Illinois workers’ compensation law? Call us for free any time at (312) 346-5578.