The Missouri Supreme Court is set to decide if a revised law meant to fix the Second Injury Fund is constitutional. This law had been created after previous payouts had rendered the fund insolvent.
The law prohibited people with permanent partial disabilities from making new benefits claims through the state’s Second Injury Fund. Instead, the fund was reserved for people with permanent total disabilities.
This case is to decide if the Second Injury Fund must pay when the injured worker has previous injuries, some not related to work, that occurred prior to the effective date of the new law, January 1, 2014. In this case, the worker was injured after January 1, 2014, but he had previous injuries, some not related to work, that occurred prior to that date.
“The changes made to the Second Injury Fund were made to keep people with non-work related previous injuries, and their attorneys, from draining the Fund as happened prior to enactment of the law,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. “Employers should not have to pay for injuries that have nothing to do with work. The law is clear in banning these types of claims for partial disability after January 1, 2014.”
The Second Injury Fund compensates people who suffer work-related injuries that combine with pre-existing disabilities to create more severe disabilities. The Fund was originally established to provide employers some comfort when hiring injured veterans returning from World War II that if a work related injury caused a war injury to worsen, the claim would be paid by the Fund. While it was solvent for decades, clever plaintiffs’ attorneys filed claims for injuries that were not related to work at all: sports injuries, etc., resulting in the Fund becoming insolvent. The legislature addressed the insolvency by prohibiting partial disability claims against the Fund.