When a professional athlete is injured, they turn to workers’ compensation like other employees across the nation. With few exceptions, personal injury lawsuits beyond workers’ comp are rare in the sports world with the perception that injuries just go along with the territory of being in the big league.
However, sometimes even pro athletes may pursue third party damages when someone’s negligence results in their injury. Take the case of Dustin Fowler, who at 22-years-old was to make his major league baseball debut in June of 2017 for the New York Yankees. Starting out in right field at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago facing the White Sox, a line-drive down the right field line had him scrambling. Laser focus on the ball, running at full speed, he collided smack-dab with an unpadded metal electrical box positioned between the railing and a half wall, stopping him in his tracks. The devastating collision ruptured the patella tendon in his knee, ending his baseball career with the Yankees before the conclusion of the first inning. A month later, in a “Money Ball” styled package deal, he was traded to the A’s for pitcher Sonny Gray and placed on the disabled list.
Fortunately for Fowler, surgery and rehab efforts have been successful and he seems to have recovered. His baseball career appears to be back on track and he is expected to start training this spring with the A’s. However, the legal battle has just begun as Fowler recently sued both the White Sox and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority contending that as a result of “the negligent, grossly negligent, reckless, willful and wanton conduct of the Defendants,” he not only missed the remainder of the 2017 baseball season, but has had to endure “great pain and anguish” and “severe and permanent” injuries. Looking at the big picture, he obviously is not only concerned with past lost earnings due to his injury, but also potential future earnings as he reenters the game. No one can blame him, especially given the seemingly preventable circumstances that led to his injury and the physical nature of his employment.
Of course, MLB players, like most professional athletes, are financially protected through lucrative contracts (even when injured) and generous health care benefits. They generally do not have to rely on workers’ compensation benefits and, consequently, rarely bring personal injury lawsuits when third party negligence is at hand. However, the everyday worker is not so lucky. Getting injured on the job can lead to many financial difficulties, especially when an employee cannot return to work either temporarily or permanently or even in the same capacity. Workers’ compensation benefits are crucial for covering medical expenses and lost wages for most of us and being denied these benefits can wreak havoc on families who depend on a working mom or dad for support. When third-party negligence is a factor, most workers do not have the luxury of not pursuing the full range of damages through a personal injury claim, which may include monetary damages for actual and potential lost wages and medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, and more. Depending on the circumstances, punitive damages may also be awarded.
Experienced Work Injury Claim and Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or a family member is injured at work, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to navigate the process, particularly if your workers’ compensation has been denied. If someone’s negligence other than your employer or coworker results in an injury, a third party personal injury claim may be an option depending on the circumstances, which may increase your entitlement. If you are injured at work, contact the Davenport, Iowa workers’ compensation, personal injury attorneys of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for help today. We have helped many injured Iowa and Quad – Cities workers get the benefits they need when they are injured on the job and look forward to assisting you today. Call us to discuss your legal options at 563-355-6478.
Source: ESPN, “Dustin Fowler suing White Sox, Guaranteed Rate Field agency for serious knee injury”, accessed January 19, 2018.