Visiting California for the Workers’ Comp – Part 1 of 3
California workers’ compensation does not often get attention from the world at large. Most people work, some people get injured, and the lawyers usually fight it out – your typical newspaper or anchor will not discuss workers’ compensation because of its narrow application. But then, something happens now and again, which shines a flood-light onto the swamp, and sends all of workers’ compensation’s dirty little secrets scurrying for cover.
One such light-bringing event was the front-page story of the Wall Street Journal (this one is behind a pay-wall), which covered, at length, the extent to which small hospitals go to perform expensive and often unnecessary treatments, using an army of lien-representatives to exploit the weakness of California’s workers’ compensation system. Another is the problem plaguing professional sports. Your humble blogger had the privilege of summarizing the problem for Lockout Lowdown, a sports law blog, some time ago.
The problem faced by professional sports teams is very real – players will have a lengthy career of several years, play as little as a single game in California, and then file a claim for a career-long cumulative trauma, seeking California benefits. Often enough, the player’s only contact with California is the one game. This was the case with Cleveland Crosby, who played between 1980 and 1985, and played a single game in California in 1982.
In Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund of the State of Maryland v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (2001) 66 Cal. Comp. Cases 923 (writ denied), the WCAB held that, because Cleveland Crosby played a game in California while employed by the Baltimore Colts, California had jurisdiction over the Colts for Applicants cumulative trauma injury.
Defendant fought back, naively invoking common sense and reason before bringing out the big guns of Labor Code section 3600.5(b). But Insurance Fund didn’t have the right ammunition: it did not provide certification of reciprocity with California, and the insurance coverage did not appear to cover out-of-state injuries. Because the defendant in this case failed to prove reciprocity or extra-territorial coverage, applicant prevailed.
But don’t lose hope! Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of 3…