Compromise Possible in Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Workers’ Compensation on Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When we last discussed the Missouri Legislature’s efforts to change the state’s workers’ compensation laws during this year’s legislative session, the Legislature was looking to overcome Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would have limited injured worker’s ability to seek compensation from co-workers and reduced the amount workers who contract occupational illnesses can receive in benefits. In the latest development, Nixon is indicating that he is willing to compromise on the proposals, which he had previously said unfairly limited workers’ compensation.

According to a letter obtained by the media, Nixon said that he would sign a new version of the bill — if the Republican-controlled Legislature makes certain changes. For example, Nixon would support including occupational illnesses under the state workers’ compensation system, but only if workers who develop fatal illnesses on the job receive 200 percent of their salary in benefits. Under the current system, injured workers receive two-thirds of their salary, up to a cap. The cap would also apply to terminally sickened workers under Nixon’s plan.

Nixon also said he would accept a prohibition on injured workers filing personal injury suits against co-workers who caused the injury unless the co-worker did so purposely.

The letter drew support from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the business group that had pushed the original changes. An official with the Missouri AFL-CIO said the union might also support the compromise proposal, though officials had not had the chance to review the letter. With leaders from both business and labor behind Nixon, the idea may stand an improved chance of passing before the end of the session.

Source: Springfield News-Leader, “Missouri governor signals compromise on workers’ compensation,” Wes Duplantier, May 2, 2012

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