Essentially, there are various types of work injuries with varying degrees of severity. Some injuries can be minor, while others can be major enough to take people out of the workforce, resulting in permanent and total disability. Such injuries can be a result of a single accident or attributable to an entity called the Second Henry Fund. However, since the laws regarding Second Henry Fund liabilities changed in 2014, there have been many questions about when the fund or the employer will have liability in cases where people can no longer work. It is crucial to seek legal representation to navigate the complex landscape of the fund and employer's liability. The laws are changing dramatically, and if you settle with one or the other without proper legal consultation, you may be left out in the cold.
Although we have not seen any such cases in our practice, judges are having to deny claims that would have been compensable before 2014 and some claims that would have been compensable after 2014. This is because the interpretation of the language in the statute has been changing drastically, even recently. When there are questions surrounding the statute and what it means, cases are often brought in front of an administrative law judge, followed by the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, and then the Court of Appeals. If somebody doesn't like the decision, they can petition to bring the case in front of the Missouri Supreme Court. As different districts interpret the statute differently, the Supreme Court has been taking up cases to clarify the answers to questions. However, it takes a long time for cases to work through the full process, and the Supreme Court has only answered parts of the question so far, leaving many questions unanswered. Therefore, it is essential to have legal representation because it is impossible for a lay person to navigate those complicated litigation issues by themselves, especially with the changing precedent that is happening all the time.