Former New Orleans Saints Safety Not Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

If you are injured at your workplace, it is essential to understand how long you have to report a workers’ compensation injury.  An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you ensure that your claim is filed as soon as practicable.  Delays in filing a workers’ compensation claim seem to have cost former New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper his workers’ compensation claim.

Knee Injury Led to Workers’ Compensation Claim

Sharper joined the Saints in 2009 and achieved several interceptions before a knee injury during a game in November of that year, which was similarly aggravated in December.  Following the Saints’ Super Bowl victory, Sharper confirmed, on a signed form, that he was not injured in a way that would prevent him from continuing his career.  After the knee injury, Sharper would go on to play an additional 18 games for the Saints.  Sharper attempted to claim that he sustained another knee injury in February of 2011, but could not substantiate the claim.  Following a stint as a free agent, Sharper retired in 2011 and subsequently filed a workers’ compensation claim against the New Orleans Saints.

Workers’ compensation for NFL players has been a contentious issue in the Louisiana legislature this past year.  The New Orleans Saints recently supported a bill which would change NFL workers’ compensation in Louisiana to bring it in line with how most employees’ workers’ compensation benefits are calculated.  The law would calculate workers’ compensation based on earnings at the time of the injury, rather than projected annual earnings.  Under the current scheme, supporters noted, six of the last seven appellate cases resulted in unfavorable rulings for players.  The NFL Players Association heavily contested the bill, noting that it would significantly decrease the workers’ compensation benefits for players injured in the off-season, when players receive a much smaller stipend.  As a result of the contentious nature of the debate, no result was reached and the bill was quashed this past May.  However, the bill is expected to be re-introduced in 2015.

Other Facts Surrounding the Case

The pending legislation was not the only extrajudicial information on the court’s mind when considering Sharper’s workers’ compensation claim.  Sharper is currently incarcerated in California pending the resolution of seven claims of rape.  In spite of these distractions, a Louisiana state appeals court decided that Sharper’s workers’ compensation claim should be denied because he waited more than a year after his most recent injury to file a claim.  Sharper attempted to convince the court that the deadline to file a claim was extended by the Saints’ recognition of the injury, because the Saints continued to pay Sharper even when he was sidelined.  However, the court decided that those payments constituted salary, not workers’ compensation benefits, and that Sharper’s claim was untimely.

Despite Sharper’s delay in filing and activity after his injury, Sharper’s attorneys nevertheless obtained a small payout against the Saints for their failure to authorize follow-up treatment on knee, which Sharper requested.  Sharper has filed similar suits against his other former teams, the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.

If you or a loved one is injured at the workplace, whether a football field or an office, you should be aware that waiting to file a workers’ compensation claim can cost you an opportunity to have a court consider your claim.  An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you assess your claim and ensure that your claim is filed in a timely manner.

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