Proposed change to Louisiana workers’ compensation law criticized

| May 21, 2015 | Workers' Compensation |

A proposed change to the Louisiana workers’ compensation program in 2014 came under fire from several New Orleans Saints players. The players said that a law proposed by two Louisiana representatives would have hurt professional athletes while providing no benefit to the state’s taxpayers.

The proposed legislation, which was never enacted, would have changed the way that workers’ compensation benefits are calculated for injured athletes. Benefits would have been based on the player’s earnings at the time they suffered an injury rather than using an average weekly amount based on their annual compensation. Professional football players make the vast majority of their income during the NFL season, and the proposed legislation would have greatly reduced the amount of benefits that they would receive if they were to suffer an injury during training camp.

Similar legislation was proposed in 2010 after the New Orleans Saints triumphed in Super Bowl XLIV. While supporters of the bill claimed that the proposed law only sought to treat athletes in the same way as other workers, its critics believed that the law was designed primarily to save the team owners money. Analysts say that passing House Bill 1069 would have likely made it more difficult for the Saints to attract the best players.

Any proposed changes to the Louisiana workers’ compensation program should be scrutinized closely, and this is especially true if the revisions would reduce the benefits paid to injured workers. The program is designed to operate without allocating blame for an accident, but employers sometimes allege that an injury is being exaggerated or was not suffered on the job. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney could assist injured workers during the claims process and in a subsequent appeal should the claim be disputed.