This week, the Missouri Senate voted for workers' compensation legislation that would ignore the serious financial crisis of the Missouri Second Injury Fund. The bill, perfected by the Senate Feb. 15th, can be found here. A new bill on the Second Injury Fund has been filed by Senator Dempsey and should be available online soon.
As reported by StlToday.com, the Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster emphatically warned that millions of dollars in bills are piling up because the Missouri Legislature hasn't replenished the state fund that compensates certain injured workers.
To date, the fund owes more than $14 million to 184 injured workers, bills that are not being paid and accruing interest of $1.3 million per year. That amount doesn't even count the potential liabilities for 29,000 pending cases, which are estimated could cost the state more than $145 million.
The Missouri Second Injury Fund was originally started approximately 70 years ago to encourage companies to hire World War II veterans with disabilities. It is set up to pay for work-related aggravations of previous injuries. However, since 2005, when the Missouri Legislature capped a business surcharge that finances the awards to workers, the fund hasn't generated enough money to pay the amounts due to Missouri's injured workers.
It is clear that the amounts due to those injured workers who have already won awards are not going to evaporate into thin air. Unfortunately, it is likely that the courts will ultimately have to decide who bears the expense--state taxpayers or the state's employers, who are assessed a surcharge on their workers compensation insurance.
If you or a loved one is seriously injured in a work related accident, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to under the law. The attorneys at Tatlow, Gump, Faiella & Wheelan, LLCwill be happy to discuss your case with you to answer any questions that you might have.