Workers' compensation not enough for jockeys

There are some jobs you probably don't think about having injuries very often, and jockeying may be one of them. These incredible equestrians can and do get injured, and when they do, they could face career-ending injuries or even death.

What happens when a jockey gets hurt while at work? According to the news from May 15, workers' compensation may not pay them what they need following a serious injury.

According to one man's story, he's now 43 and unable to ride. He was paralyzed when the horse he was riding stumbled during an exercise, and that left him paralyzed below the stomach and with a severe spinal cord injury. While workers' compensation did cover his medical bills that allegedly totaled in the hundreds of thousands, he barely gets anything close to his salary from before the accident.

According to the news, the man now only receives $434 per week from workers' compensation, a small amount compared to what he made as a jockey. The story claims that tracks provide jockeys with insurance coverage, but they don't receive any kind of long-term care. One leader of the Kentucky-based Jockey's Guild has said that after a few years, the injured jockeys are on their own, for the most part. In the cases of horse exercise riders, which included the man in the story, there is no track-provided insurance.

What is fortunate is that in Maryland, jockeys are covered under workers' compensation. In some other states, that isn't the case. There are some things changing, though, and that looks good for the future. In 2006, for instance, the horse racing industry, race tracks, and jockeys established an organization called the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which benefits jockeys with paralysis, brain injuries and some other forms of injury. Currently, that fund has only 10 months of funding, but it provides 62 people $1,000 extra per month.

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