Posted on Mar 11, 2011

March 11, 2011 - Missouri - Current estimates from the Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation show a bleak future for the Second Injury Fund.

Established in the 1940s during World War II, the Missouri Second Injury Fund encouraged hiring disabled workers. It provided protection to Missouri employers by shifting the costs of the effects of combining pre-existing disabilities with serious disabilities that can arise from a work accident. The "second injury" is in regards to when an already disabled worker suffered a work injury that caused additional disability.

The Missouri Second Injury Fund helped employees who received compensation from their employer for the work injury and then the Fund supplemented additional funding for the enhanced disability. The Fund operated well, with the funding coming from a surcharge on the Workers' Compensation insurance premium paid by Missouri employers.

The funding was good for many years and in some years when claims weren't as numerous, the surcharge was not necessary. Management of the plan was done so the anticipating funding needs for the next year were adequately met. Unfortunately, in 2005, changes in the political forces in Missouri caused a rewrite of the Workers' Compensation law. This cut coverage for a significant number of medical conditions and limited benefits.

The new legislation caused a cap of the Fund's surcharge which did not allow for the plan to be flexible enough to account for increased claim years. Missouri's auditor warned of the Fund's impending failure, and it was also forecasted to become underfunded by 2 independent auditors but legislators failed to take notice.

Current predictions estimate that the Fund will owe in excess of $20 million in legal obligations by the end of 2011
. This may result in many Missouri workers with disabilities being denied their compensation benefits under the Fund. It could also potentially deter employers from hiring disabled workers to avoid the risk of additional expenses should they be injured at work.

Contacting a St. Louis Workers' Compensation Attorney

If you experience difficulty in filing or settling a Workers' Compensation claim in Missouri you are not alone. An experienced St. Louis Workers' Compensation attorney can help you fight for your legal rights to compensation and benefits that your employer must provide. If you are injured in a work accident you may need an attorney to help obtain the benefits you are entitled - 314-315-8111.