06/10/2013 1:26PM

Chavez sues over insurance settlement


Jockey Jorge Chavez, who has not ridden since going down in a spill on Dec. 4, 2011, at Aqueduct in New York, has filed a lawsuit against the insurance company covering riders at New York racetracks seeking a lump sum payout of nearly $1 million.

The suit, filed in the Supreme Court of New York in Nassau County on May 17, alleges that Chavez was “rendered permanently impaired and disabled” as a result of the 2011 accident, which would qualify Chavez for a payment under the policy equal to 10 times his earnings over the past 36 months, to a maximum of $957,980. The suit states that the policy issuer, AIG, has refused to distribute the sum. The policy is purchased by the New York Racing Association, which operates Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga.

Chavez, 51, broke five ribs and fractured his collarbone and two vertebrae in the accident, according to news reports at the time. Doctors told Chavez that he would need at least five months of recovery before returning to riding, according to articles, but he has not raced since then. Chavez had fractured the same two vertebrae in an earlier accident in 2003 at Gulfstream Park.

Joe Faraldo, who is representing Chavez in the suit, said that the former jockey is no longer fully “ambulatory,” and that he has trouble sitting for long periods of time. Faraldo said that the jockey is also no longer capable of riding a horse.

“The insurance company is putting in place a standard in which you’d have to be a quadriplegic to qualify for coverage,” Faraldo said. “NYRA is paying a lot of money for that coverage, but you might as well not even have a policy at all if that is the standard.”

Chavez was the leading rider on the NYRA circuit from 1994 to 1999. He won 4,526 races in his career, including the 2001 Kentucky Derby on Monarchos. After an accident in 2006, his career tapered off, and in 2011, the last year he rode, he had 302 mounts, with 23 wins.