Many Chicago Bears fans will know the name Tom Tupa well — the longtime NFL punter, whose 17-year career came to an abrupt end in 2005, has been granted workers’ compensation for an injury he suffered that year while practicing.
Tupa was preparing for a preseason game in 2005, and while he was out on the field practicing punts, he landed awkwardly. He felt something in his back and quickly sought medical attention.
Tupa never played in the NFL again.
At the time, he was an employee of the Washington Redskins. The Redskins represent the District of Colombia (by name), play their games in Maryland, but are headquartered in Virginia — Tupa’s claim cited Maryland workers’ compensation law, which the Redskins and their insurers said should absolve the team from paying Tupa because he was contractually obligated to bring the case in Virgina.
However, this argument was rejected by the courts (which said that the Maryland law extended to workers’ compensation applicants even if a contract said otherwise), and now Tupa’s long battle for the finances he needs to pay off medical bills from his injury is over.
There is one important detail to take away from Tupa’s case, and that is the lengths to which a company or organization and their insurers will go to try and refute a workers’ compensation claim or deny it entirely. The team and their insurers in Tupa’s case tried to utilize a geographical loophole to get out of the claim. This is the reality for many workers’ compensation applicants, who need to consult an experienced lawyer to ensure these kinds of legal tactics don’t bar them from vital funds.
If you want to learn more about the topics discussed in this post, please visit our Chicago workers’ compensation page.