Hot Topics in Missouri Workers’ Compensation

January 5, 2015

Worker's Compensation

Below are summaries of some recent Work Comp-related findings from Missouri courts. These summaries were provided by Attorney Chris Archer of Archer, Lassa and McHugh LLC.

Second Injury Fund Liability for Perm Totals
Several decisions recently have helped to define the SIF Liability. The courts in the past looked at the SIF to handle new cases where an employee’s prior condition combined with a work related injury put them at a greater degree of disability than would have resulted in the absence of the prior condition. Recently decisions are that, unless “the last accident alone” was severe enough to cause a perm total condition, then the SIF can be responsible when a work related injury in conjunction with a pre-existing condition renders the employee unable to compete for work in the open labor market.

Retaliatory Discharge or Discrimination-Civil Claim
The Missouri Supreme Court reversed 15+ years of precedent in redefining the statutory burden of proof a claimant/employee needs to sue their Employer for work comp discrimination. In Templemire v. W & M Welding, Inc., the court held that the employee must only demonstrate his/her filing of a workers’ compensation claim was a “contributing factor” to the employee’s discharge and that the trial court had erred in instructing the jury that it had to determine an employee was discharged exclusively in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This decision makes it very important for an employer to have solid and concise documentation in their personnel files when terminating employees who have filed workers compensation claims.

Closing out Future Medical-Implications after Frank Pierce v Zurich American
Reactivation of a settled claim is explained in 287.140.8 of the Missouri Statutes. When settling a claim that has exposure of future medical, one option is to have your defense attorney cross out this preprinted section on the stipulation and also designate a dollar amount as consideration for the waiver of the claimant’s right to reactivate. Be clear in identifying that medical causation, accident, and “injury” were disputed issues. In the Pierce case, this statute was not crossed out and there was a dispute of two doctors as to the need for a total knee replacement.

Extension of Premises – Scholastic v. Viley
In this case, the court of appeals affirmed the Commission’s earlier decision that the claimant had sustained a compensable accident when he slipped and fell on ice in the parking lot of his employer when leaving work at the end of the day. The parking lot was not owned or maintained by the employer; however, there was a provision in the lease granting the employer “exclusive use for parking of Tenant’s Automobiles”. The courts ruled that this exclusivity provision was “evidence of control” and found the employer liable for the injuries.

We hope you find these summaries of interest and we will continue to keep you apprised of further hiccups in the system. If you have any questions, please contact your J.W. Terrill Claims Specialist or Account Executive.

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About Genia Ruckman

Genia Ruckman, Vice President, Claims Management Services, assists the commercial lines department at J.W. Terrill in the retention of existing business and growth of new business by providing advocacy and consulting services for client companies to assist in the management of workers’ compensation claims and incurred costs.

View all posts by Genia Ruckman

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