Not only did the Philadelphia Eagles lose Super Bowl LVII, earlier this month the Eagles lost their multiyear effort to oppose former player Emmanuel Acho’s application for a workers’ compensation claim.

In 2015, Acho injured his thumb while playing for the Eagles. He underwent surgery, the Eagles released him, and ultimately he never returned to playing professional football again. In 2018, Acho filed a petition for a workers’ compensation claim and requested disability benefits. Initially, a workers’ compensation judge found Acho was entitled to a claim, as well as disability benefits through 2019, when his injury resolved. The judge concluded that Acho’s injury prevented him from performing the duties of his position as a linebacker. 

Eagles appeal workers’ comp claim

The Eagles appealed, and a workers’ compensation appeal board affirmed the prior decision. Yet again, the Eagles appealed, arguing that Acho could not establish that the reason he was no longer playing football was due to his thumb injury. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed all of the prior decisions and sided with Acho. 

New precedent set?

We routinely watch professional athletes get injured while performing their job duties and do not consider whether or not the athlete will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Many of the athletes and teams are subject to a collective bargaining agreement that covers any necessary medical treatment. Entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits varies by state, but it is possible that athletes may be entitled to benefits. The bigger question is whether this case will be a precedent for other former athletes to bring workers’ compensation claims and/or for retired players to claim their careers would have been extended if they had not been injured in the course of performing their job duties.