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NFL team tried to punt on workers' compensation benefits

Now that the Labor Day holiday has come and gone, many in North Carolina are certainly anticipating the upcoming professional football season. As Panthers fans prepare to cheer on their team, one former player is lauding a victory of another kind. Tom Tupa, a former punter, won a workers' compensation case involving his former team, the Redskins, after it was disputed for many years.

In most cases, employees who are injured or become ill while completing work-related tasks have the ability to file claims for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits help cover the financial stress associated with medical treatment and time away from work.

In 2005, Tupa was warming up prior to a game and unexpectedly injured himself. The kicker "landed awkwardly" and sustained a serious back injury that ultimately ended his football career. Immediately after the incident, Tupa sought medical attention.

Upon reviewing Tupa's claim for workers' compensation in 2007, his employer and their insurance raised objections, citing questions about whether it was an accident or not. Finally, the state's court ruled that the employer's assertions about knowing the risks of playing football did not invalidate the claim for workers' compensation. Since Tupa was injured in the course of his employment, he is eligible for benefits.

In addition to raising questions about the nature of Tupa's injury, officials from the Redskins tried to deny his court claims due to supposed jurisdictional issues. On too many occasions, employers try to shirk their obligation to cover employees when they are hurt. It seems that this football franchise is no different.

Tupa did everything he was supposed to by immediately visiting a doctor to help support his claim for benefits and filing a claim for benefits. The punter's successful court case serves as a reminder to injured employees that diligence can pay off.


  • Fox Carolina, "Court: Ex-NFL punter eligible for workers comp," Aug. 22, 2012
  • Our firm has experience handling workplace injury disputes, such as the one described in this post. For more information, please visit our Greensboro workers' compensation page.

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