Massachusetts law provides for the payment of workers’ compensation benefits to an “employee” injured in the course of employment. Specifically excluded from the definition of “employee” are “persons employed to participate in organized professional athletics, while so employed, if their contracts of hire provide for the payment of wages during the period of any disability resulting from such employment.” While that provision would seem to prevent most professional athletes from being eligible for workers’ compensation benefits it has been judicially interpreted to foreclose receipt of benefits only while the player continues to play, or is otherwise employed by the team (during rehabilitation for instance), and is paid wages. Once the wages stop the exclusion no longer applies.
No other provision of the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act deals exclusively with professional athletes. Rather, players have the same rights as any other injured worker. Among the benefits available to professional athletes are cash benefits, compensation for medical treatment and permanent loss of function of a body part and/or disfigurement, as well as vocational rehabilitation.
However, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation claims process is complex and highly technical. Legal issues unique to professional sports, such as the interplay between the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, and the League Collective Bargaining Agreement, can make the successful pursuit of a profession athlete’s workers’ compensation claim a difficult proposition. The Law Offices of Walter J. Korzeniowski have handled professional player’s cases for over 20 years, and have the experience and knowledge necessary to devise and execute a winning game plan.