When it comes to work comp laws, many people don’t know that it applies to athletes. They are employees and all employees based out of Illinois, hired in Illinois or hurt in Illinois can receive Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. This includes Arena League and Indoor League football players.
So if you are playing for an Illinois based team or get hurt with an out of state team while playing in Illinois, you can bring a work comp claim here. You can also file one here if you were physically in Illinois when your contract for hire was completed.
Even though the pay and attention of these leagues is much smaller than the NFL, there are similar amounts of injuries and maybe even more injuries. These players get worse training and protection, less practice and are asked to do more than their NFL counterparts. There is also more pressure to play through pain and injury as it could really be your last chance. They also don’t have near the same level of medical staff that a NFL team would have. And finally, they don’t usually have a union to educate them and look out for them.
We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to help some of these players over the years and there are a couple red flags we’ve seen in how their cases have been handled:
- They often are paid at the wrong rate for their time off of work. Their work year isn’t 52 weeks, it’s the length of the season and that is how many weeks should be used to calculate off work payments. Many times players have been grossly underpaid.
- Other jobs are often not included in calculating wages when they should be. Many players have side jobs to support themselves such as personal training, office work, bouncing at a bar, etc. Those wages usually should be included and can make the value of a case much higher.
- In a couple of terrible situations, the club implied to the player they can only treat with their doctor. It happens a bit with out of state teams who don’t realize that Illinois law applies. Under Illinois law, you can choose your own doctor and they have to cover it.
- With one player we talked to, they were paid mileage to travel to go see a doctor, but were not given payment for a hotel room which was needed due to the distance traveled.
The key point is that all of these players are covered by Illinois work comp laws which are the best laws in the country for injured workers. They are no different than any other worker in Illinois and should be treated as such.
If you are an athlete who was hurt while working, we’d love to help you as we’ve been able to help many others. Call us any time for a free consultation at 312-346-5578.