We are attorneys for injured Illinois workers in Illinois. We believe college athletes should be getting work comp benefits. If you are an injured athlete from a division one school, please call us any time at 312-346-5578 for a free, confidential consult.

A lot of companies try to get away with not paying Illinois work comp benefits by claiming workers aren’t actually employees. The most common way they do that is by calling workers independent contractors. If they don’t actually work for you, then you don’t owe them work comp benefits, right? That’s actually wrong if we can prove the company has control over you and treats you like an employee.

I think of this control test any time I see a college athlete get hurt while playing. I’ve often thought that if you really know the schedule of a college athlete, you’d realize they are really employees even if they don’t get paid beyond the scholarship. From limiting what classes they can take, to threatening to take away a scholarship, to forcing athletes to play through pain, pumping players with drugs, barring studying abroad, etc., the college coaches and universities have always had control over them.

The schools also provide uniforms that the players have to where and make them follow a certain schedule. These are all hallmarks of actual employees.

But now more than ever it’s clear that college athletes, especially football and basketball players are about to really become employees. Due to the settlement of an anti-trust lawsuit over the NCAA taking away money making opportunities, players in the top conferences are going to begin receiving upwards of $20 million a year as soon as the fall of 2025. And that number can go up.

While scholarships aren’t taxed, I see no way this money could possibly avoid taxes. It’s no different than the NIL money that many of these great athletes are fortunately receiving now. Speaking of which, it’s very common for the schools themselves through their NIL collectives to broker deals for players to entice them to play for their team.

So this fall when you see a football player tear their ACL on a tackle or miss a game with a shoulder injury or medically retire due to a neck or back injury, those players, in my opinion, are owed Illinois workers’ compensation benefits.Same will be true this winter when you see a basketball player get hurt. And I’d argue it holds true for even non-revenue athletes who are on scholarship or receiving other financial consideration due to their participation.

These benefits of course can really be significant for these young men and women. Not only would they get 100% of their medical care related to the injury taken care of, it can potentially happen for life and they’d get to choose their own doctor. A lot of injured college athletes get forced onto the school doctors and they often get pressured to release an athlete to play before they are truly ready.

Beyond that, if compensation was taken away due to the injury, these athletes could make up some of that money through Illinois work comp benefits. And they could eventually be entitled to a settlement. If they have a career ending injury, that settlement could be worth well into the mid six figures.

It’s going to take one athlete willing to be the first to come forward and file a claim for benefits to prove we are right that they deserve these benefits. If you are willing to discuss being that person, we’d love to speak with you.