Hamilton v. Pro-Football Inc. (P)

Evidence supports the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission’s denial of a claim for wage loss benefits for an injury that the claimant sustained while on the Washington Redskins’ practice squad.

Denial was based on the Commission’s finding that the claimant didn’t market his residual capacity between the date of his injury and the date on which he returned to work in a different field. Although he was disabled from playing football after his injury, no doctor ever opined that he was totally incapacitated from all work for any period of time, even after his two surgeries. He remained ambulatory and had significant residual capacity. He was able to travel among various locations in Iowa, Michigan, Texas, and Virginia. The claimant was a recent college graduate with a degree in communications and a certificate in entrepreneurship. During his period of partial physical disability, he completed an unpaid, three-week externship in which he worked with various divisions of a sports memorabilia company.

The fact that the claimant, after not actively looking for work, ultimately secured a job that paid him almost as much as his pre-injury average weekly wage does not satisfy the purpose of the Workers’ Compensation Act’s marketing requirement. To the extent possible, the employer was entitled to have its payments minimized during the entire period of the claimant’s partial disability for which he seeks compensation benefits.

Contrary to the claimant’s argument, the Commission didn’t punish him for being a bad professional football player. Instead, it found that his failure to market was unreasonable, in part because he didn’t prove that his rehabilitation was so time-consuming that it prevented him from simultaneously seeking and working in other employment.

Affirmed.

Hamilton v. Pro-Football Inc. (P), No. 1091-18-4, Feb. 12, 2019. CAV (Decker) from Va. WCC.



Categories: Court of Appeals of Virginia, Opinions, Published

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