Denver football fans may be interested to learn that, according to a high court, famed 46-year-old punter Tom Tupa has been deemed eligible to receive workers’ compensation.
The player sustained a back injury in 2005 that ended his career. Though his team argued that, because football is a rough sport and comes with a certain degree of risk, he was ineligible for workers’ compensation, the court ultimately found for Tupa. The team also claimed that Tupa’s fall and back pain could not be considered an accidental personal injury under state law, a requirement to be eligible for workers’ compensation.
A little over seven years ago, on Aug. 19, 2005, the punter had been warming up prior to a preseason game when he fell awkwardly. Tupa immediately felt extreme pain in his lower back that forced him to see a doctor. Though he was given medication, the injury ended up finishing his career in professional football.
After passing an initial hurdle of whether the court could even hear his case, the punter was awarded temporary partial disability benefits. Tupa’s medical expenses were also covered. Shortly thereafter, the insurers and team asked for a jury trial in which the jury again found for Tupa, saying that his injury was both accidental and that his disabling back pain was related to that injury.
While many of the employees in Denver who are suffering from back pain that is preventing them from working are likely not former NFL players, they should be eligible for the same sorts of workers’ compensation and disability benefits that Tupa is.
Source: Associated Press, “Ex-NFL punter wins case for workers’ compensation,” Aug. 23, 2012