The "Jock Tax" Payback: How Pro Athletes Are Cashing in on CA Worker's Comp

Many readers may be familiar with the fact that most states have their own version of the "Jock Tax".  Essentially, if a pro-athlete and resident of  a neighboring state plays a game your state, your state will be owed an amount of income tax from that athlete since the athlete is essentially conducting business in your state.  Although the average citizen would see this as a blatant maneuver to fill state coffers from wealthy pros, almost all states have enacted their own version of a Jock Tax.

Now it appears the Jocks have a way to fight back--filing worker's comp claims.

Consider this:  A professional football player and resident of Colorado, in the course of his 88 game career ends up playing just 9 games in California.  After retiring he gets awarded a $199,000 injury settlement from the California workers compensation court for his football injuries.  The player.  Terrel Davis, former Super Bowl MVP and Denver Broncos running back.

A recent article in the LA Times gives the details:

Over the last three decades, California's workers' compensation system has awarded millions of dollars in benefits for job-related injuries to thousands of professional athletes. The vast majority worked for out-of-state teams; some played as little as one game in the Golden State.

All states allow professional athletes to claim workers' compensation payments for specific job-related injuries — such as a busted knee, torn tendon or ruptured spinal disc — that happened within their borders. But California is one of the few that provides additional payments for the cumulative effect of injuries that occur over years of playing.

A growing roster of athletes are using this provision in California law to claim benefits. Since the early 1980s, an estimated $747 million has been paid out to about 4,500 players, according to an August study commissioned by major professional sports leagues.