Why Getting Put On The Injured List Is Not Considered A Workplace Injury

The 2020 baseball season was supposed to be one for the history books. The Cubs were scheduled to play a series in London against their archrivals, while the White Sox were all set for the first ever MLB game at the storried Field of Dreams. Then the pandemic hit. 

Spring Training was called off, and Opening Day was pushed back to July. Now, both teams are struggling to keep players healthy after the extra months off took their toll, and the coronavirus rages on. While questions about liability for exposure to COVID-19 are still being debated by policymakers, we thought it would be interesting to explore why baseball players and other athletes cannot sue their teams for personal injuries that occur “on-the-job.” 

Getting Compensation For Workplace Injuries 

Typically, when an employee is hurt in a workplace accident, he or she can seek payment from the Illinois Workers Compensation system, and may be able to file a lawsuit against a negligent third party. 

The first and easiest way for someone who is injured on the job to seek compensation is through the Illinois Workers Compensation Act (IWCA). The workers comp system provides injured workers with compensation when they are fully or partially disabled, or lose a body part. The IWCA provides specific guidelines that dictate how much money an injured worker or worker’s family can receive for a particular injury. 

The second way to seek compensation for an on-the-job injury is through a personal injury lawsuit. Illinois law generally does not allow an injured worker to sue his or her employer for an on the job injury because that is what the workers comp system is for, but an employee may be able to file a lawsuit against a negligent third party.

Third-party lawsuits are appropriate when a subcontractor, maintenance company, or a worksite owner has caused or contributed to an employee’s injury. The evidence in the case must show: 

  • The third-party (subcontractor, mechanic, property owner, etc.) owed the injured worker a duty of care. 
  • The third-party failed to uphold their duty through negligent or reckless behavior.
  • That failure caused or contributed to the injured worker’s accident or injury. And,
  • The injured worker can show they suffered actual damages. 

The Stein & Shulman team regularly helps injured workers in the Chicagoland area walk through this analysis and figure out if they have a valid their-party claim. 

What If My Job Is Inherently Dangerous? 

Unlike the rest of us Joe Shmoes, baseball players and other professional athletes are typically not allowed to file for workers comp or sue anyone if they are injured on the job. Athletes assume the risk of being injured during routine play, and are well-compensated for that choice. 

There is an exception though, if another player was acting recklessly and intended to cause an injury, or the team was not following the rules that protect its players, the team or the league may have to pay up. This is probably part of the reason why pitcher Joe Kelly was suspended for 8 games after intentionally hitting a member of the Astros. 

Other employees who are working in inherently dangerous fields like construction or road work do not face the same sort of restrictions, although their employer might try to convince them to “suck it up” and get back to work. 

The Stein & Shulman team has years of experience helping injured workers from all sorts of industries get the money they need to support their families and move on with their lives. If you have been hurt on the job, please contact our office to discuss your options