Jacksonville Jaguars & Orlando Magic Change Workers Comp Law

The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Orlando Magic along with other professional sports teams in Florida have led the charge to change Florida workers’ compensation law to better benefit employers. The legislation (House Bill 723) passed unanimously through the Florida Legislature and will be signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in the upcoming weeks. The bill will add section 440.094 titled “Extraterritorial Reciprocity” to Chapter 440 of the Florida Statutes, which is the workers’ compensation law for Florida. This new section of the law is designed to prevent workers who are injured while temporarily working in another state from pursuing their claim against the employer in those states.

This may seem like a nuance, but it’s quite substantial when injured workers file their claims in California, which has the most liberal benefits for workers comp. Since the inception of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995, the team has only played 5 of their 224 games in California stadiums. However, 95 percent of their injured players have filed for benefits in California. Some of the most well known former football players in the state of Florida that are receiving California benefits include Tony Boselli (Jaguars), Jimmy Smith (Jaguars), Keenan McCardell (Jaguars), Mark Clayton (Dolphins), Mark Duper (Dolphins), and Derrick Brooks (Buccaneers).

Chris Carmody is one of GrayRobinson’s lead lobbyists on this issue for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Orlando Magic. He predicted that in light of today’s service economy with the high number of employees traveling over state lines that other states will adopt reciprocity statues similar to this law.

The benefit for this legislation to other Florida employers is that when their employees are injured in the course and scope of employment in another state (for short term travel of under 10 days or under 25 days in the year), the employee is still entitled to benefits as if he or she was injured in Florida.

The bill also includes language that gives out of state employers the power to exempt themselves from Florida laws if they carry workers comp insurance for the injured employee in their own state. This statute is effective only if the other states have similar laws, which is where the “reciprocity” portion comes into place. California and roughly 10 other states already have this type of law. So for professional sports teams and other Florida employers, this is a good step for Florida workers’ compensation insurance.