The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled against former Pittsburgh Steeler DB Ainsley Battles lost his bid to obtain Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits. Battles sought wage loss benefits based on a 2004 season ending injury in which he suffered a torn hamstring. Battles was signed by Pittsburgh in 2000 as an undrafted free agent and then departed the next season for Jacksonville, where he spent two season. He then returned to Pittsburgh for the 2004 season.
In denying benefits, the Court found that testimony provided by the Steelers and their insurance carrier from a pair of orthopedic surgeons was enough to prove that Battles recovered from the injury to continue pursuing his football career prior to his ultimate retirement in 2006. Battles’ claim was based on the allegation that he had a loss of earning power due to diminished speed, increased fatigue, and a weakened ability to change directions.
The case simply revolved around what the majority of all workers’ compensation cases do — the medical evidence.
“Both doctors agreed that claimant’s injury would not prevent him from playing professional football, and neither doctor suggested that claimant’s injury caused a loss in earning power after he completed his rehabilitation,”
Essentially, the fact that Battles’ failed to make the roster the next season was not related to the injury sustained in 2004, according to the Court. Disability from work, which entitles an individual to wage loss benefits, must result from the work injury.