advertisement

LETTER: Clearing up misconceptions about the Second Injury Fund

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | 1:55 p.m. CDT; updated 11:31 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I read with interest your April 20 article about the Second Injury Fund. I represent people who are hurt at work, and years ago I represented the Second Injury Fund as a special assistant attorney general, so I am very aware of how the fund operates.

Some in the business community are saying the Second Injury Fund is paying people for non-work-related injuries. This statement is not accurate and represents a misunderstanding of the Second Injury Fund. The fund pays for the impact of the work-related injury in combination with a prior medical condition. The fund does not pay for the prior medical condition itself, whether that condition is a work-related condition or not.

Here is an example of an injury involving both eyes: In 2005, a person loses the sight in their left eye — whether from a disease, an on-the-job injury or an off-the-job injury, it does not matter. The person is working again when, in 2011, he or she is injured once more, losing the sight of the right eye. Unlike someone with no previous injury to their eyes, the result for this person is total blindness and, in all likelihood, permanent disability for life. The injury is worse for that person because of the existence of the prior medical condition. The fund pays for the combined impact, not the prior injury itself.

Because of the fund, the employer only pays the workers' compensation claim for the loss of the sight of one eye — the work injury as seen in a vacuum — without the existence of the prior medical condition, and the fund pays for the rest of the impact of that work injury.

Before the fund was created, the employer was responsible for the entire impact of the work injury. If the business community wishes to go back to that liability, that is its choice. But, to argue employees are being paid for non-work-related disability is just inaccurate. When they receive Second Injury Fund benefits, people are only being paid for disability that results from the work injury.

Phil Hess is an attorney in St. Louis. He is the president-elect of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements