Bruce Matthews played offensive guard for 19 years in the NFL, first in Texas, and until 2002 with the Tennessee Titans. During his career, he played in 13 injury-free games in California. In 2008, he filed a workers' compensation claim here against the NFL/Titans for the pain and disability he experienced as a result of injuries incurred over the course of his whole career.
Adrienne Johnson played guard for three WNBA teams, in Cleveland, Orlando and Connecticut, between 1997 and 2003. In her final year, as a member of the Connecticut Sun, she played in a game in California against the Los Angeles Sparks. Later that year, she filed a Connecticut workers' compensation claim for an injury to her right knee in 2000, and won a $30,000 settlement.
In 2010, Johnson filed a workers' compensation claim against the Sun in California for cumulative injuries to her spine, shoulder and lower right extremities relating, in part, to the Sparks game.
Both of these players blamed their athletic careers for what's known in the workers' comp biz as cumulative trauma. It's a wear-and-tear thing, not an acute event, and its full effects don't manifest for a while. Long-term brain injuries resulting from multiple concussions are a prime example of cumulative injury. The military is becoming increasingly aware of this malady, and last week's NFL settlement to players suffering things like dementia confirms its insidious evolution in the sports world.
As the copy editor of "Sullivan on Comp," an...
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