All professional athletes face risks of injury, but a while back researchers started to notice a surprising and troubling discrepancy between men’s and women’s professional basketball injuries: WNBA players suffer lower extremity, mostly knee and ankle injuries at vastly higher rates than their NBA counterparts. Injuries to professional female basketball players became so common that an ESPN commentator dubbed it “the league in which stars disappear with alarming regularity each season.”
What’s more, because salaries are not nearly as high in the WNBA as in the NBA, many athletes do not enjoy anything close to the financial cushion an NBA player might have, which makes a season-ending injury all the more costly.
WNBA players need financial protection against injuries and long-term sickness. Long-term disability (LTD) insurance and permanent total disability (PTD), permanent career ending coverage at least in theory, exist to provide that backstop. Unfortunately, just because a player buys or is covered by LTD or PTD insurance does not always mean that the player receives the promised benefits. Sometimes, LTD or PTD carriers refuse to pay valid claims.
DarrasLaw represents professional athletes, including WNBA players, in disputes over LTD and PTD benefits. Furthermore, we can help you understand what’s in a policy so you can decide whether to purchase it and then how to use it if sickness or accident strikes.
Maybe you play in the WNBA and want to buy insurance against an injury or sickness. Maybe you already suffered an injury that should give you a valid claim against your LTD or PTD policy, but find yourself getting pushback. Either way, please contact DarrasLaw for a totally free policy review and free claim consultation.
The WNBA’s Injury Epidemic
The 2019 WNBA season kicked off amid a spate of players sidelined with injuries. It ended much the same way, prompting one prominent women’s basketball blog to write of an injury epidemic in the league.
Studies comparing men’s and women’s professional hoops players have found a startling disparity in the rate of injury between them. Women sustain roughly 60 percent more injuries than their male counterparts in pro basketball leagues. A recent study shows that lateral ankle sprains topped the list of most frequent injuries in the WNBA, with ACL tears the injury resulting in the most missed games.
The Long Term Cost of Injury
Seasoned athletes know injuries are rarely just one-offs. Even when rehabbed perfectly, injuries have a way of cascading from one to the next. The downhill slide into a career marred by frequent time off to nurse a knee, ankle, or back, can begin all too easily. What starts as a rolled ankle can end up taking years away from a player’s time in the league, which translates financially into thousands, even millions of dollars in lost salary, benefits, and endorsement opportunities.
LTD and PTD Claims for Pro Athletes
WNBA players who carry LTD or PTD insurance, either team-supplied or paid for out of their own pockets (or both), expect to have some protection against the financial risks of a season-ending or, worse, career-ending injury. Their policies share some similarities with the insurance common for any occupation, except for one critical aspect that can make obtaining benefits difficult.
Ordinary LTD Policies Define Disability Uniformly
For ordinary, non-pro-athletes, an LTD policy covers a percentage of lost salary from an injury or sickness that renders a person unable to perform the important duties of their occupations. PTD or permanent total disability is career ending coverage where medically there is no hope of playing again as the disability definition.
Pro Athlete LTD Policies Make Disability a Harder, and More Controversial, Call
For WNBA athletes, however, it’s a whole different ballgame, so to speak. Most athletes who go down with a bad injury can still function in day-to-day life. They might even still play basketball. The question, instead, is whether their injury has materially affected their ability to play, and earn income, at the elite professional level, and if so, to what degree and for how long.
Now, sometimes, that’s easy to figure out. A player who suffers a spinal cord injury that paralyzes her from the waist down has an obvious disability under a professional athletics LTD policy or PTD policy. But what about one who sustains a partial ACL tear that, with the right repair at The Steadman Clinic and a diligent course of rehab, might have the player back in full-form in 18 months? Or a nagging ankle injury that just won’t heal and limits an athlete’s ability to shuffle? Or a hip injury that is okay if the player submits to regular cortisone shots?
Sadly, insurance companies that issue LTD and PTD policies often write them to make these injuries less compensatable. When an injured athlete makes a claim, LTD and PTD insurance companies can raise arguments to justify denying or paring down a payment. This can make for a rude awakening for athletes depending on the financial cushion an LTD and PTD policy is supposed to provide.
How DarrasLaw’s Award Winning LTD and PTD Lawyers Can Help
Insurance companies might try to get away with disputing claims to save money, but they still have contractual and legal obligations. The team at DarrasLaw has over three decades years of experience representing pro athletes in claims against LTD and PTD carriers. Our mission for our clients is to hold those insurance companies to the duties the law requires of them. Our clients deserve to get paid the LTD and PTD benefits they purchased to protect themselves and their families against the financial costs of the significant injuries or sicknesses that permenantly bench them.
We also have the know-how to take LTD and PTD claims further, when necessary, to get results. In many states, it is illegal for insurance companies to deny claims in bad faith when they know they owe a player benefits, but some repeatedly try to nickel-and-dime her anyway.
At DarrasLaw, we understand the ins and outs of the hidden corner of the insurance industry that caters to professional athletes. We understand how to investigate the inner-workings behind the decision to deny a player’s legitimate claim. When we uncover wrongdoing, we also have the sophistication and resources to face down those insurance companies and to pursue them for all of the benefits.
Your WNBA Long Term Disability Claims Lawyer
If you play in the WNBA, have suffered an injury or sickness and either want to file a claim against your LTD or PTD insurance policy, or have made a claim and have gotten resistance, contact DarrasLaw today.
We have the experience, knowledge, and resources to recover LTD or PTD benefits. Frank N. Darras has three decades of litigation and claims experience. He and his firms have recovered nearly $1 billion in wrongfully delayed and denied benefits from America’s insurance conglomerates. For more information, call us now at (800) 458-4577 or write to us using our confidential contact page.