The fight over workers comp reform for pro athletes isn't new. It has taken place in Florida, Arizona and Louisiana, to name a few states. The battle in California is significant, however, because it's often regarded as the state of last resort, meaning out-of-state players who weren't informed of their workers comp rights by their teams -- or who had physical or cognitive issues surface after the statute of limitation lapsed in their home states -- could have their cases heard in California, one of only nine states that recognizes what's known as "cumulative trauma," wear-and-tear injuries or conditions sustained from their jobs.
Proponents contend that AB 1309 would close the "loophole" that allows active and retired athletes to "double-dip" by filing claims in both their home state and California, sometimes without ever having actually played in California. Opponents counter that the bill would retroactively wipe out hundreds, if not thousands, of pending cases and deny medical care to athletes who paid into the system during their careers.
The issue is particularly acute among California team owners, whose workers comp costs sometimes are two-thirds higher than their out-of-state colleagues. Local NFL owners contend the discrepancy puts them at a competitive disadvantage because they're left with less revenue for expenses like coach and player salaries, facility upgrades and team travel.