Failure to show disability sacks football player's attempt at scoring benefits
Daniels v. Event Staffing Inc., 23 MIWCLR 157 (Mich. W.C.A.C. 2009).
A Michigan Workers' Compensation Appellate Commission majority reversed a decision awarding wage-loss benefits to a football player for severe injury to his back and right lower extremity, as he failed to establish he had a disability.
What it means: Under Michigan law, a claimant establishes disability by proving a limitation in wage earning capacity. To do this, the claimant must disclose his qualifications and training, even if they are not relevant to the job he was doing at the time of injury. Next, the claimant must prove what jobs he is qualified and trained to perform within the same salary range as his maximum earning capacity at the time of the injury.
A football player alleged he was severely injured as a result of being tackled, and was no longer able to play football. The majority of the commission believed that the football player had not sufficiently disclosed all of his qualifications and training insofar as his ability to obtain maximum earnings consistent with his physical limitations. In this context, his coaching experience, business experience, and his membership in the Screen Actors' Guild would demand some evidence of the availability of work within these fields and the earnings for such employment. The commission noted the football player had excluded a range of jobs that paid his maximum earnings, as he defined the universe of work suitable to his qualifications and training rather narrowly. The commission noted that the football player did not show that he was unable to obtain any of the jobs he identified as required to establish disability. However, the football player's failure to seek such work or offer an explanation as to why he did not seek such work was ultimately fatal to his claim.
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October 1, 2009
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