Professional athletes can file workers' compensation claims for injuries sustained while playing. However, intense lobbying in California has led the Governor to sign a bill, AB 1309, that prevents athletes from being able to file such claims in many circumstances, even for severe brain injuries. The NFL has been pushing for this bill to protect itself from financial responsibility for concussions and injuries related to the game. Other professional leagues will also benefit. After a large class action suit against the NFL settled for $765 million, the league began stronger lobbying to protect them in the future. Players allege serious lasting affects of concussions, such as dementia, but the new bill will stop many athletes who are injured in California from filing claims. Other states will likely follow suit. The bill specifically prevents athletes from filing claims if they did not play on a California team for at least two complete seasons prior to filing. Even if they meet that requirement, they will be barred from filing in the state if they played seven or more seasons outside the state. The lobbyists argued that the burden of these lawsuits falls to the taxpayers and California government, creating a large detriment to citizens in order to assist professional athletes looking for a big payday. However, one critic states that the bill will just force injured athletes to turn to other forms of government assistance for aid. The reason California is such a hot-bed for these injury claims is that workers' compensation law in the state is relatively lenient, allowing for cumulative trauma injuries and a lengthy statute of limitations. This bill will prevent athletes from taking advantage of such laws, but will also prevent many deserving athletes from obtaining the financial means to deal with their medical issues.
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