With over 30,000 claims pending against Missouri’s worker compensation fund, the legislature and Governor are trying desperately to find the money to pay some of these disenfranchised workers.
The funds to pay injured Missouri workers have dropped to a trickle, and the total amount owed to injured workers is three times greater than available in the Second Injury Fund.
When workers are injured on the job, employers have the legal obligation to provide adequate time off to heal and receive medical attention. Workers injured on the job are entitled to compensation for time lost due to injury. Currently, Missouri Division of Workers has had to withhold payment awarded to 1,262 injured people due to the lack of funds. The current claim amounts total $32 million, but only $9.3 million is available.
The money to pay worker’s compensation comes from a 3% surcharge on businesses based on a 2005 law. The new legislation proposed by the state legislature would effectively double the surcharge amount to 6% in order to resume payments to the 1,200 workers currently awarded workers compensation.
Under the 2005 law, workers who claimed a disease was aggravated by work conditions were not eligible for workers compensation, and those claiming that an injury was caused at work had a more difficult time proving it.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is reviewing the bill to change the 2005 law which would give 1,262 people the money they have already been awarded.
Additionally, 30,000 claims are currently back-logged in the workers compensation fund due to the Attorney General putting these on hold while the legislation can be changed.
The new bill, if signed into law, would go into effect in 2014 and run until 2021. Some of the more immediate effects of the law include doubling the rate that companies pay for workers compensation insurance, limiting workers compensation claims to only severe cases, and reducing the interest rate on judgments.
In the meantime, those workers who have been awarded workers compensation benefits but have yet to receive them have another course of action to claim the money owed them. Missouri compensation lawyers are working with disabled workers who need that money immediately, and have no choice but to use legal channels to obtain what is legally theirs.
Governor Nixon is hurrying the bill into law in an attempt to avoid the costly legal battles over workers compensation funds due to the large number of claims that have been taken to court for payment by Missouri compensation attorneys seeking to get what their clients are owed.
This new law is intended to fund payment to the first 1,200 claims, but for claimants further back in line, it appears that payment may be a long while coming.
Contact the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann
If you have been injured at work it is important to receive the assistance of an experienced Missouri Workers’ Compensation Attorney.
At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann we have over 20 years of experience protecting the rights of injured Missouri workers.
Call (314) 361-4300 or schedule a free consultation.
photo credit: ensign_beedrill