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Former NFL player awarded workers' compensation

A court recently ruled that a former punter and quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals should receive worker's compensation for injuries that he suffered while playing for another team. He retired after he injured himself in a pre-game warm-up; his fall after a practice kick and awkward landing hurt his back and ended his career, even though he sought medical attention promptly.

Neither the NFL team's lawyer nor the court deciding the case doubted that Tupa sustained a work injury. However, the court grappled with whether Tupa's injury was a workplace "accident" in the strict sense, because NFL football by its nature involves physical activity, including rough play that participants would know can cause injury. The court concluded, in essence, that employees should not forfeit their right to workers' compensation simply because they work in a risky occupation.

The court also addressed whether Tupa filed his claim in the proper forum. His injury occurred in one state, but he played for a team located in a different state.

Under Arizona's workers' compensation law, employees may collect remuneration for accidental on-the-job injuries. This includes those employees who work in higher risk occupations, like firefighting, mining, law enforcement and, presumably, professional football. Also, as in Tupa's case, a worker who resides outside of Arizona but sustains a work injury in this state may be able to file for workers' compensation here.

An employee involved in an Arizona workplace accident will want to make sure they get the right information in order to navigate through some of the nuances of Arizona's workers' compensation law.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Former Redskin Tom Tupa wins workers' compensation case", Andrea F. Siegel, Aug. 22, 2012

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