JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate by a vote of 28 to 6 advanced to the House today a measure that reforms Missouri Workers’ Compensation System. The bill, Senate Bill 572, would restore protections for co-employees from personal lawsuits for their role in honest accidents at work and return Workers’ Compensation as the exclusive remedy for workplace accidents.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, sponsored the measure and said the changes would improve Missouri’s business climate.
“This bill presents real solutions to problems facing our state’s workforce and their employers,” said Dempsey. “Ending lawsuit abuses and relieving the need for additional insurance to cover honest accidents at work are important to making sure Missouri businesses can grow and hire more employees.”
Dempsey said the bill would abrogate a 2010 appeals court decision that opened up co-employees to this risk. The bill also reinstates the Workers’ Compensation System as the exclusive remedy for workplace claims, except in cases where employers intentionally put their employees at risk of injury or death.
“It’s unacceptable that an employee injured in an honest accident at work can sue his or her co-employees,” Dempsey said. “Coworkers, most of whom do not have insurance when it comes to covering their role in workplace accidents, should not be open to lawsuits as a secondary slush fund for those injured on the job. The responsibility should begin and end with the employer and the workers’ compensation system.”
Senate Leader Robert N. Mayer said the measure is one of several priorities designed to spur job creation in Missouri.
“While Missouri’s unemployment rate has improved, it is still too high with more than 245,000 Missourians still out of work,” said Mayer, R-Dexter. “We acted quickly on this bill because it is an important step in creating a climate where businesses will want to expand.”
The bill now moves to the House for similar consideration. The measure included an emergency clause, meaning it would take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.
Source: MO Senate