by Bernard D. Nomberg, Partner, The Nomberg Law Firm
What happens if a Southeastern Conference football referee is injured on the job? Does workers’ compensation take care of his injury? Which state’s laws are controlling?
Consider the following hypothetical scenario: Steve Smith, a banker from Tupelo, Mississippi, on the weekends serves as a football referee for Southeastern Conference football games. His employer, the Southeastern Conference, which is based in Birmingham, Alabama, trains him before and during the season. The Southeastern Conference pays him wages to work SEC games during the season.
Let’s say that he is working the game between the University of Kentucky and University of South Carolina, and the game is being played in Columbia, South Carolina. In the middle of the third quarter, Smith is working along the sidelines when he is run over by a University of Kentucky strong safety and the collision causes him to break an ankle bone. As a result, he needs surgery and then six weeks of post-surgery physical therapy and rehabilitation. He also misses eight weeks of the football season.
Although he lives in Mississippi and was working in South Carolina at the time of the accident, if he was hired in Alabama and works for an Alabama company, the Southeastern Conference, this is likely an Alabama workers’ compensation claim. Some employers have venue provisions in their employment documents that state no matter where the on the job accident occurs, the only venue is proper in a specific county in Alabama. So for instance, the employee can live in Texas, get hurt in Louisiana, receive their medical care in Texas, but their workers’ compensation claim will be administered under Alabama law and if a lawsuit is filed, it must be brought in Alabama.
In our hypothetical scenario, Smith lives in Tupelo, got hurt in Columbia but his employer is based out of Birmingham. The SEC could choose to have a venue provision that states Smith’s claim will be administered under Alabama law. Many employers who employ people living and working in multiple states choose to have these venue requirements.
Who pays for the time he misses eight weeks of work? If Smith cannot work his week-day job as a banker, under Alabama law, the SEC or its workers’ compensation carrier would not have to pay the wages he lost from the bank. This is a question we are often asked because so many of our clients work a second job.
Who pays for the injured referee’s medical care? His employer at the time of the accident would be responsible for paying for authorized medical treatment. Most personal health insurance policies have exclusions for work-related accidents.
We wish all officials and players a safe and healthy 2016 football season. We look forward to watching a lot of great football during the next five months!
Bernard D. Nomberg has practiced law in Alabama for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. He has been selected a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine as well as a Top Rated Attorney by B-Metro Magazine.