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Chicago Bears fight to cap workers' compensation benefits at 35

While workplace injuries are prevalent in most industries, those suffered by professional athletes may sometimes be overlooked. Currently, a proposed bill in the Illinois legislature concerning caps on workers' compensation benefits has garnered the attention of a number of sports entities. The NFL Players Association wants no cap on comp benefits, while the Chicago Bears and other sports franchises in Chicago seek to limit the number of years for which injured players can receive the benefits. Disabled workers in other employment scenarios are entitled to benefits until the age of 67.

Franchise owners argue that the career of a professional athlete typically ends around age 30, and they are trying to prevent benefits beyond that age. The Bears management wants the benefits for athletes who suffered injuries that ended their careers to be capped at age 35, or for a period of five years following the date of their injuries. The NFL Players Association wants benefits to continue as long as those for injured workers in other types of employment.

Major sports teams who are backing the Bears include the NBA Bulls, NHL Blackhawks, and the MLB Cubs and White Sox. Currently, Illinois athletes are entitled to benefits equal to two-thirds of the difference between the amount they earned as professional athletes at the time of their injuries, and the money they earned in post-injury occupations. This amount is capped at $1,070,which is the average weekly wage in the state.

It remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved. Any professional athlete in Illinois who is injured while working has the right to consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney. The lawyer can navigate the benefits claims process and work to achieve the best possible level of compensation under the circumstances.

Source: limaohio.com, "How long should injured pro athletes get workers comp?", Kiannah Sepeda-Miller, Feb. 20, 2017

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