JEFFERSON CITY – The state's oldest business association believes that the state Supreme Court's ruling declaring that workers injured on the job after Jan. 1, 2014, could not be compensated from Missouri's Second Injury Fund was the correct one.
In its decision, the court cited 2013's Senate Bill 1, which set the cutoff date for permanent partial disability claims against the Second Injury Fund to the January 2014 date.
Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri, says the 2013 change was necessary to avoid paying claims on second injuries that were suffered after an initial injury that did not happen on the job.
"There were payouts being made out of the Second Injury Fund even if the first injury was related to maybe an accident on the ball field," McCarty said. "We were trying to protect that fund so it could be used for what it was originally intended to be used for."
McCarty said the change came in response to attorneys who figured out ways to abuse the system.
"Around 2000 is when the claims just starting piling in because creative attorneys had figured out how to game the system," McCarty said.
He cited the lack of wording in the original law about how the first injury was sustained as opening the doors to claims that should not have been paid from the Second Injury Fund.
McCarty said changes were necessary to save the fund from going broke, and he says the updated law has achieved that goal.
However, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the ruling has now created confusion as to who will pay for second injury claims, and the group says it is exploring legislative options to answer this question.
McCarty, on the other hand, believes the system now works the way it should and no additional changes are necessary.
"We think the court got it right," McCarty said.