Monday, April 1, 2013

RIDICULOUS: No Workers Compensation for Lousville's Kevin Ware?

Godspeed, Mr. Ware
The Medical Bills of Kevin Ware Should Be Paid by NCAA and/or Louisville

As per an article from published today, Louisville's Kevin Ware, who suffered a truly horrific ankle injury during yesterdays Elite 8 match up between Louisville and Duke, is ineligible for workers' compensation benefits. 

Before I continue, let me say this:  Godspeed for a full recovery, Mr. Ware.

What Are Workers' Compensation Benefits and How Could They Help Kevin Ware?

All employees in the United States are eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

NOTEIndependent Contractors are not

Workers' compensation benefits are for employees who suffer work-related injuries, and fall into two categories: 1) indemnification for medical bills incurred as a result of the injury; and, 2) wage reimbursement for wage losses resulting from lost time at work due to injury.

No Comp for Medical Bills? Really?!
If Mr. Ware was eligible for these benefits, he would not have to worry about his medical bills, and could be in line for compensation for the financial losses which he may suffer if his pro basketball career is derailed.

Thanks to the "Simply Russdiculous" play of Russ Smith, Louisville is headed to the Final Four. Louisville is the most profitable team in college basketball.  The University stands to make far more as a result of its current March Madness run than it would cost to take care of Mr. Ware.

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For its part, the NCAA will receive more than a BILLION DOLLARS in television ad revenue for
this year's tournament alone.

Putting all other player compensation issues aside, shouldn't collegiate players who are injured during competition at a minimum be entitled to indemnification for their medical bills?  That seems fair to me.  The current scheme, on the other hand, is Simply Ridiculous. 

POSTSCRIPT:  According to a report published today (April 2, 2013) in USA Today, Kevin will not have any out of pocket medical expenses!  It appears that where, as here, a student-athlete has insurance of his/her own, Louisville becomes the athlete's co-insurer.  In addition, the NCAA apparently has a plan in place that provides for up to $90,000 in medical expense reimbursement for student-athletes injured during post-season tournaments.   

Still, it appears that Louisville's policy applies only if the student has his/her own insurance, and the NCAA applies only to post-season events.  While then news for Kevin is truly wonderful, it does not solve the overall problem:  collegiate student-athletes injured while competing for their schools do not get workers' compensation insurance benefits.

Further, while it appears that Mr. Ware's medical bills will be paid, what happens if his professional career is derailed by this injury?

This Injury Cost Marcus Lattimore Millions
It happens.  For example, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was almost certain to be picked high in the first round of the NFL Draft before suffering two serious injuries.  Now, he is projected to go much later in the draft.  He has lost millions in lost wages as a result of his injuries.  If there was workers' compensation insurance for him, he could have recouped quite a bit of his losses.

John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania.
Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave…

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