Workers’ benefits legislation moves ahead

Thursday, February 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:40 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — The narrowing of injuries covered under Missouri’s workers’ compensation law won first-round approval Wednesday night.

After two sessions and more than five-and-a-half hours of debate, the bill won initial approval by a voice vote of the Missouri Senate.

The legislation would tighten the definition of what qualifies as a compensable injury. Only those injuries where the job is deemed to be the “prevailing” cause would earn benefits. Heart attacks at the workplace or car accidents that occur while driving a company car would not qualify.

The approval marked the end of two days of intense negotiation. The bill will now be printed and submitted for formal approval in a roll-call vote. After that it will move to the Missouri House of Representatives.

While the bill’s fundamentals remain unchanged, several notable amendments were approved. They include:

  • Erasing a passage that would have removed the financial incentive for lawyers to represent employees in lawsuits against their bosses.
  • Solidifying penalties against insurance companies and employers that fail or refuse to abide by the law.
  • Requiring that workers’ compensation regulations be posted at a conspicuous location in the workplace.

Critics of the bill say it still does not address major problems in the system. Sen. Tim Green, D-St. Louis County, is concerned about injured workers having to wait too long for their settlements.

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