The dust is beginning to settle from the fallout of the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision in the workers’ compensation case, Cosby v. Treasurer of Missouri. Perhaps the most interesting possibility is that the Supreme Court has made employers liable for injuries that would have been covered by Missouri’s Second Injury Fund.
Missouri Supreme Court Strictly Construes Workers’ Compensation Laws Against Hurt Workers
The outcome of Cosby v. Treasurer of Missouri was a loss for hurt workers throughout the state.
An injured worker sued to collect compensation from the Second Injury Fund after his newest injury on the job aggravated his old one. The timing of those injuries, however, implicated the recent amendments to workers’ compensation law.
After hearing the case, the Missouri State Supreme Court did what business interests have wanted it to do for decades. It read any ambiguity in workers’ compensation law in a way that benefited businesses, not workers. By strictly construing any language in the law that allows injured workers to recover compensation – including through the Second Injury Fund – the Missouri Supreme Court saved businesses in the state some extra money.
Did the Supreme Court Shift Liability from the Second Injury Fund to Employers?
In the end, the Missouri Supreme Court confirmed the ruling of the Industrial Relations Commission. That Commission had issued the original denial of the injured worker’s claims against the Second Injury Fund.
In the original denial, though, the Commission had made its own interpretation of the recent amendments to Missouri’s workers’ compensation law. In the denial, the Commission had read the amendments as closing the Second Injury Fund to hurt workers, effectively shifting liability for those injuries back to the employers.
Rather than closing the door on hurt workers, the Commission closed the Second Injury Fund but opened another one. Workers whose old injuries were contributing to their disability could recover compensation from their employers.
Workers’ compensation lawyers representing both hurt workers and their stingy companies are already fighting for a resolution by the Commission. Lawyers for workers are claiming that the Missouri Supreme Court put the stamp of approval on the entire Commission’s denial, including the part that opened employers up to liability. Lawyers representing companies are arguing that the Supreme Court merely closed the Second Injury Fund, and that hurt workers are out of luck.
It seems likely that the problems created by the Cosby decision will have to go back to the Missouri Supreme Court for an answer.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
The personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph are already filing new motions for hurt workers. These motions still seek compensation for prior injuries suffered on the job, but ask employers to pay it rather than the Second Injury Fund.
If you have been hurt on the worksite, call the attorneys at the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online.