Supreme Court reviews case that could shift previous disability liability to employers
This week the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments about the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission’s decision to shift liability for certain types of employees’ injuries to employers and insurers – injuries that used to be covered by the state’s Second Injury Fund. In the Douglas Cosby Enhanced Disability Case, the Industrial Commission interpreted 2013 changes to Second Injury Fund statutes to remove protections for an employer hiring an employee with a pre-existing disability. If an employee is hurt on the job, the employer is now liable for the work injury combined with any costs caused by previous injuries, according to the Industrial Commission’s interpretation.
“We are watching this case closely as it could have a significant impact on future workers’ compensation liability,” said Matt Panik, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs. “The law covering the state’s Second Injury Fund was amended in 2013 to keep the fund from going bankrupt and to protect this safety net for employees who had previous injuries, and the employers who hired them. It must strike a balance and the Supreme Court’s decision could impact that balance.”
The Supreme Court has not indicated when it will rule on the case. The Missouri Chamber is reviewing legislative options that could clarify lawmakers’ intent of the 2013 law.