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Calif. limits workers comp claims by out-of-state professional athletes

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California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that will limit workers compensation claims in California filed by out-of-state professional athletes.

A.B. 1309, signed by Gov. Brown on Tuesday, was passed 66-3 by the California Assembly and 34-2 by the state Senate early last month, according to the California Legislature website. The law bars professional athletes and their dependents from receiving California workers comp benefits if the athlete spent most of his or her career playing for teams outside the state.

California's “cumulative trauma” workers comp provision allows workers to file a claim if their work exposed them to injury in the state. Prior to A.B. 1309's passage, that policy allowed athletes to make a California claim if they played at least one game there.

The new law affects minor and major league baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer players, and applies to comp claims filed on or after Sept. 13, 2013. Some out-of-state athletes would still be able to file cumulative trauma claims in California if they spent at least 20% of their career in California or playing for a California-based team, according to the bill text.

An August 2012 report by Seattle-based actuarial and consulting firm Milliman Inc. estimated that California could have faced up to $1.57 billion in “cumulative trauma” cases from out-of-state professional athletes who played games in the state within the past 30 years.