Pro Athletes and D.C. Workers Compensation

Posted on Sep 16, 2014

Often overlooked in the media coverage of a serious injury to a professional athlete is a fundamental right for all workers - workers compensation benefits when they get hurt on the job.

So can RG III get workers compensation benefits for the serious injury during the Jacksonville game on Sunday?

The short answer is yes - these rights exist for pro athletes as well as mechanics, electricians, construction workers, maids, nurses, drivers, and any other occupation you can think of.  The basic and fundamental principle is that if an employee gets hurt on the job, he or she can get medical treatment and wage loss benefits while they cannot work, and sometimes additional benefits for a permanent injury. Remember, you can't sue your employer or a co-worker who causes your injury at work, so you can't get the kinds of damages available in a lawsuit - pain and suffering, for example.  By law, an injured worker's remedy is through the workers compensation system.

But is it "fair" that professional athletes have these same rights?

Of course it is.

Remember, not everyone you see playing for the Nationals, Wizards, Caps, Mystics or Redskins is a multi-millionaire.  Many athletes make minimum salaries, play only part of the year, and have very short careers.  And they probably focused on their sport and livelihood during college, or in baseball, went straight to the minor leagues after high school.

And they've paid their dues.  So a career ending injury means the end of their livelihood.

During the season, a player like RG III is under contract, so he will receive his regular salary instead of workers comp benefits - no one can get both.  But say he was a back up, his contract was up, he was cut and his career was over.  Then he could get benefits for a permanent injury like any other worker in D.C., Virginia or Maryland.

If you want more information on pro athletes and workers comp benefits, call us at (202) 393 - 3320 and pre order a copy of our latest guide to workers comp benefits, specifically written for players in Washington, D.C.