Nashville Athletes May Get Workers’ Compensation, Too

athlete workers compNot every job is a safe, boring routine. Not every job is safe, period. Occupational hazards are everywhere, in pretty much every field in some form or another. Certain jobs are especially prevalent with accident potential. This is why workers’ compensation exists. If you’re employed and get hurt on the job, you’re potentially eligible to collect from it — no matter if you work in a cubicle or on an athletic field. If you do need to file a workers’ compensation claim, knowing your rights and hiring an attorney ahead of time can help avoid greedy or negligent employers from shirking their responsibility. It may also avoid their insurance companies from taking advantage of you.

Players on both sides in that explosive Super Bowl and right here in Tennessee — this is for you. That slippery paint may have only cost you points this time, but it is a recipe for disaster. Football is a dangerous enough sport without players having to worry about the surface they’re playing on, but it is definitely not a new risk for many. The Tennessee Titans have suffered a multitude of injuries on the field in their home Nissan Stadium specifically due to the uneven, inconsistent turf to the point that it’s now being replaced with new material.

While we like to think this is out of care for the players, it is also likely to avoid as many workers’ compensation claims — and personal injury lawsuits — as possible.

Understanding your employer’s duty of care in Tennessee

Employers have a specific duty of care to protect their workers from preventable accidents, and professional football is no exception. Any known dangers need to be mitigated as much as possible. This refers to maintaining and inspecting equipment, making sure employees have free access to all personal protection (including helmets and pads), keeping floors clean and dry when possible, and ensuring every employee is adequately trained. No matter what you do, your employer is responsible for making sure the environment you do it in and the tools you use are as safe as they absolutely can be.

Now, workers’ compensation is another responsibility of the employer. It is a type of insurance employers must carry in case of an employee’s occupational injury or illness, and it does not actually matter who’s at fault, as long as the accident happened during the course of the employee’s normal duties. Employers are required to report any and all injuries or illnesses they know about to workers’ compensation. The employer must also carry the legally required minimum, and accept any reports they get from employees (even if they doubt the report). Basically, they are expected to cooperate fully and eagerly when assisting an injured employee, and make sure they are cared for every step of the way.

Entertainment industry workers’ compensation can be complicated

If you are a professional athlete at any level, you’re exposed to a unique set of conflicts facing those injured at work. Not only is some physical damage “expected,” but it isn’t only your employer you’re up against — it’s the actual workers’ compensation insurance itself. For any occupation, they may try to question the legitimacy of your claim, but those in the entertainment industry may have even more difficulties. For one, if you’re an independent contractor, as many entertainers and athletes are, you’re probably not eligible for worker’s comp.

The insurance company will question who “controls” you, whether that’s a manager or a third party, and even who provided the equipment (if applicable) that caused your accident. They may also question whether you were technically “on the job,” since your work may take you to multiple venues and locations. These additional challenges compound typical workers’ compensation struggles, which is why injured workers of any sort need an experienced attorney to protect them.

Workers’ compensation versus personal injury

If you’ve been seriously injured on the job, you may be wondering whether workers’ compensation is enough to cover all your damages. Or perhaps you know you’re not eligible for that but still want to seek damages after someone’s negligent behavior caused your injuries. That is where personal injury claims come into play. Personal injury claims are against a specific person or entity to hold them accountable and secure compensation for your losses. If, for example, your employer routinely neglects OSHA regulations and that ultimately caused your injuries, you may want to file both a workers’ compensation claim AND a personal injury claim. Unsafe worksite practices are the most common causes of workplace injuries due to negligence on the part of employers.

You may also be an athlete on someone else’s slippery, uneven stadium field. Even though they are not your employer, property owners of any sort have their own duty of care towards any guest, so if they fail to maintain their turf and it gets you hurt, that could be its own premises liability claim — a form of personal injury. Your personal injury attorney will go over the details of your case and help you determine the best course of action. While workers’ compensation can indeed cover your medical expenses and lost wages, personal injury allows for more damages and a higher ceiling (for economic damages). It also holds someone personally accountable for your damages, which may be the only way to get them to change their ways in the future.

Whatever you decide, both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims must be filed ASAP — within a year, and sometimes sooner for workers. If you’ve been injured on the job, no matter the circumstances or the occupation, don’t wait to hire an attorney. The Nashville workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm have years of experience helping victims in the entertainment industry and beyond seek compensation and justice for their injuries, and we’re here to help you too. We maintain offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville for your convenience, and we’re always available via phone or our contact form. We’ll fight for you!