Darren Sharper, a professional football player with the New Orleans Saints from 2009-2011, filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits on December 14, 2011. The Court addressed whether payments made to Sharper after he was injured in 2009 were wages or were amounts paid in lieu of compensation. If the former, then more than one year had elapsed from his injury and his claim would not be timely. If the latter, payments were made up to a period less than a year from the filing of his suit and it would be considered as a timely claim for compensation.
The Court examined Sharper’s contract with the Saints and noted that payments made to a player “for a period during which he is entitled to workers’ compensation…will be deemed an advance payment of workers’ compensation benefits…”. The Court found Sharper never proved that he was entitled to benefits.
The Court examined two prior workmen’s compensation cases involving Saints players and found that payments made after injury were earned salary under the players’ NFL contracts rather than wages paid in lieu of compensation. In the two prior cases and in the Sharper matter, the players attended practices, meetings, games and the necessary physical rehabilitation all of which was considered as work under the terms of their respective player contracts. As such, because there were no payments made in lieu of compensation, more than one year had run from the date of Sharper’s injury and his claim for workers’ compensation was not timely.
Sharper v. New Orleans Saints
Mark E. Hanna