Would Kevin Garnett’s knee injury be considered a workers’ compensation claim?


In last night’s match against the Utah Jazz, Kevin Garnett left the game late in the first half after straining his right knee as he attempted to complete a high “alley-oop” pass from Paul Pierce.

If Kevin was playing for the Atlanta Hawks, this could be a potential Georgia workers’ compensation claim.  First, we would have to consider whether Kevin was an employee of the Atlanta Hawks.  We know he plays for the Boston Celtics, but let’s just imagine he played for Hawks. Now, pretend that Kevin would wear a Hawk’s uniform.  He would be required to attend practices, meetings, obey curfew while on out of town trips, and work within the Hawks’ organization.  He would comply with the dress code while on the bench and likely perform other promotional duties as a Hawks’ employee, albeit a highly paid employee.   The Hawks would probably takes out taxes like any other W-2 employee.  Based on these presumptions, I would think Mr. Garnett would be considered an employee, as opposed to an independent contractor, given the amount of control the Hawks have over Mr. Garnett.  See, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-1.

The second question would be whether this knee injury arose out of and in the course of his employment with the Hawks.  As Kevin was in the game at the time and he was performing a duty consistent with his job, I would say the injury was in the scope of his employment.  Moreover, I think there was plenty of notice of the injury.

The next question would be what benefits would Kevin be entitled to?  First, he would be entitled to medical treatment for his knee.  The team would pay for the orthopedic specialist, the MRI and x-rays, and rehabilitation.

Second, if he was missing “work” or games, he may be entitled to weekly income benefits while he was unable to work.  Interestingly, the Georgia law provides for a weekly rate of two-thirds (2/3) of Kevin’s average weekly wage up to a point.  Kevin signed a three (3) year contract extension just worth over 51 million dollars.  Hence, he makes about 17 million dollars a year, or about $327,000 per week!   Here is the kicker:  Georgia law allows for a weekly compensation rate of no more than $500 per week for Mr. Garnett. See, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-261.

Obviously, Kevin has great incentive to avoid the legal court, and return back to the Basketball Court.  Garnett is expected to miss three (3) games to recover from the injury . . . probably just in time before he comes to Atlanta to play the Hawks.