House panel plan would pay disability fund lawyers

Friday, March 1, 2013 | 7:31 a.m. CST; updated 9:20 a.m. CST, Friday, March 1, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster might have a fallback plan for defending claims against an insolvent fund for disabled workers.

Missouri's Second Injury Fund has a $25 million shortfall that is continuing to grow because its liabilities to injured workers exceed its revenues. The fund is financed by fees on workers' compensation policies. It's designed to pay the costs of disabled workers who suffer a second, serious work-related injury.

State attorneys who defend against the claims have received their salaries by drawing about $3 million out of the fund. But with cash running short, Koster has raised concerns that he might have to lay off attorneys, resulting in default judgments for complainants.

House budget writers are proposing to let Koster tap other revenue sources to keep paying the attorneys.

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