Injuries in the workplace can be life-changing, resulting in permanent disabilities or even death. Missouri workers who are injured on the job may be eligible for relief from the state’s Second Injury Fund (SIF).
The fund exists to compensate employees who have suffered a work-related injury that, in combination with a prior disability, has created an increased disability. The intention is to avoid making an employer fully responsible in cases where a pre-existing condition is a contributing factor to the consequences of a workplace injury.
The funds are collected from employer surcharges and administered by the state.
Who is Eligible?
As noted, these funds are intended for workers with pre-existing disabilities who have been injured on the job and who are now unable to work. In some cases, they may be available to the survivors of persons who have lost their life as the result of a job-related injury.
The law has changed over the years, and the compensation that is currently available varies according to when you were injured.
Injuries Before January 2014
A number of benefits were available to workers whose second injury occurred prior to January 1, 2014:
- Permanent partial/permanent total disability benefits: If your second injury resulted in a permanent disability, the SIF could cover a portion of your benefits.
- Death benefits: These may be available if the employer did not have insurance.
- Rehabilitation benefits: Coverage may be provided to workers receiving treatment at rehabilitation facilities approved by Missouri’s Division of Workers’ Compensation.
- Uninsured employers: The SIF can help cover medical expenses in cases where an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance.
Injuries After January 2014
In the case of injuries that occurred after January 1, 2014, the benefits that may be available include the following:
- Rehabilitation benefits: As before, rehabilitation for injuries made worse by a second injury may be covered if the services are provided by an approved facility.
- Permanent total disability benefits: In some cases, you may be able to receive compensation from SIF if you are suffering from a permanent disability that is the result of a workplace injury that compounded a pre-existing condition.
How Do I Make a Claim?
Claims against the SIF must be made within two years after the date when the work injury occurred, or within one year after you file a claim with your employer or insurer. The claim form is available from the Division of Workers’ Compensation of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Why You Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
The SIF may offer you a chance to receive compensation that would otherwise be unavailable. If you have experienced an injury that has left you unable to work or has reduced your ability to earn a living, it’s vital that you fully understand your rights, the amount of compensation that may be available from all sources, and what actions are required to achieve the maximum possible benefits.
A workers’ compensation lawyer with a deep understanding of how SIF relates to the other benefits you are eligible for can guide you through your claim. The outcome of your case can have a major impact on the quality of life that you and your family experience.
Contact the Law Offices of Patrick S. O’Brien in St. Louis for a no-cost consultation. We can answer your questions and guide you through the process. Your rights and interests are important to us, and we will manage these issues with professionalism and compassion.