The action followed a gubernatorial veto of a measure that also included two controversial provisions. Gov. Jay Nixon later indicated he agreed that employees should not be able to sue their coworkers over injuries and illnesses that are covered under workers' comp.
The legislation that was passed stipulates an employee will not be liable for a co-employee's workplace injury or death except in cases where the worker engaged in an "affirmative negligent act that purposefully and dangerously caused or increased the risk of injury."
The legislation did not include language that would move claims related to occupational diseases into the workers' comp system. In rejecting the previous legislation, Nixon said enhanced benefits should be available to workers made ill by diseases caused by toxic chemicals such as asbestos-related lung cancer.
All occupational diseases had been handled by the workers' comp system until a 2005 reform measure. The governor's office and legislative leaders have recently tried unsuccessfully to come to agreement on an enhanced amount for workers made ill by toxic chemicals.
Also excluded from the latest legislation is changing the Second Injury Fund. Its future is uncertain, as the fund is facing insolvency after legislative changes made several years ago.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 4, 2012
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