A lawsuit filed in Federal Court appears to be the start of a new chapter in the ongoing saga regarding funding for the Missouri Second Injury Fund.  As previously discussed in this blog, the SIF provides benefits for workers who are injured on the job, but had prior disabilities, and now have an increased overall disability.  The SIF is funded by surcharges on workers compensation premiums paid by businesses. In 2005, the surcharge was capped at 3%, which has led to a projected shortfall that could occur as early as this spring.

The lawsuit was filed on February 7, 2011, in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, after the Missouri Legislature failed to take any action to remedy the situation.  The suit names Brian May, the director of the Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation, and State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, whose office administers the Fund.  It seeks an injunction that would prevent the state from enforcing the 3% cap on surcharges, or from decreasing or stopping benefit payments. The plaintiffs are workers who receive permanent total disability payments from the SIF every two weeks.  They "are among the most vulnerable of all Missourians," according to lead plaintiff's attorney John B. Boyd.  He filed suit now because he did not want to wait "until they literally can't keep their heat on," before standing up and doing something.  

The case is currently assigned to U.S. District Judge Nannette Laughrey.  State Rep. Barney Fisher, R-Richards, said that while he'll be disappointed if a federal judge tries to stick her nose in Missouri statutes, nevertheless, the lawsuit might encourage the Legislature to act.  

The financial troubles of the SIF create a lot of uncertainty and make it difficult and sometimes impossible for injured Missouri workers to get the benefits they deserve. Hopefully this lawsuit will, either through judicial decree or increased pressure on the Legislature, bring about a resolution of these problems, and restore some order to this broken system.

Have You Been Injured On The Job?

If you've been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.

You can get started today.  Download our free book, "10 Essential Steps to Protecting Your Injury Claim".
James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.
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