The Law Office of Kurt H King

December 20, 2011

Permanent Total Disability and Death from Other Causes in Missouri Workers’ Compensation Claims/Cases

Missouri courts are making law on what happens when a Permanently Totally Disabled (PTD) worker dies from other causes before his/her claim reaches final resolution.

The key statutes are 287.020.1, 287.200, and 287.230 which Missouri lawmakers amended effective June 26, 2008, in order to change the result of Missouri Supreme Court’s January 9, 2007, decision in the case of Schoemehl v. Treasurer of the State of Missouri, 217 S.W.3d 900.

Schoemehl holds that the definition of an “employee” includes his dependents as stated in 287.020.1.  Therefore, the dependents of an PTD employee who dies from other causes shall receive the compensation due the deceased employee for as long as the DEPENDENT shall live.

However, Missouri law makers overrode Schoemehl by revising the above statutes to provide that for purposes of PTD compensation under 287.200, the term “employee” does NOT include dependents.  But this change in law has been held to be substantive and thus the changes cannot be retro-respectively applied to claims that were filed (accrued?) prior to June 26, 2008–the effective date of the lawmakers’ statutory changes.

So a PTD claim that is pending–why not include also injuries sustained or reported but no claim yet filed?–and not yet finally decided during the “Schoemehl Window”–January 9, 2007 to June 26, 2008--is entitled to much more workers’ compensation that if your claim is filed [accrued?] after June 26, 2008.  See the recent decision of the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals in Goad v. Treasurer of the State of Missouri, dated November 22, 2011 (WD72820).

Another thought is that it may be wise to list all the dependents on claims for PTD so that the workers’ compensation judge may make orders that in the event of the death from other causes of a PTD worker with a claim inside the Schoemehl window that the post-death PTD compensation shall be paid to the dependents for their lifetimes.  Such an order was approved in Tilly v. USF Holland Inc., 325 S.W.3d 487 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 2010).

It is important to keep in mind that the law is far different for workers’ compensation Death claims where the injured worker dies from his injury, or where the worker is only Permanently Partially Disabled.  So disregard the above if the work injury caused the worker’s death or permanent total disability is not present.

Kurt H. King

Law Office of Kurt H. King, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068

816.781.6000

www.kurthking.com

Bankruptcy, Child Custody & Support, Divorce & Modification, Family Law

Personal Injury, Missouri Workers’ Compensation

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