Missouri Court rules that Occupational Disease can be Pursued in Tort or as Workers’ Compensation Claim
The Missouri Court of Appeals recently upheld a trial court's ruling that an occupational disease does not fall within the exclusivity provisions of the Missouri Workers' Compensation Code. In KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Co. v. Cook, WD73462 (Mo.Ct.App.2011), the Court held that the WC exclusivity provisions apply only to accidents in the workplace. An accident is defined by the Missouri Code as an "unexpected traumatic event or unusual strain identifiable by time and place of occurrence and producing at the time objective symptoms of an injury caused by a specific event during a single work shift." Since the Missouri WC exclusivity provisions are only applicable to accidents, and occupational diseases do not fall within the Code's definition of accidents, the Court held that an employee could seek recovery for an occupational disease under WC or common law.
My Two Cents:
This issue will not likely ever raise its ugly head in Alabama due to the language in the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Code. Ala. Code Sections 25-5-52 and 25-5-53 specifically incorporate occupational diseases into the Workers' Compensation Code's exclusivity provisions. Therefore, whether the injury is the result of an accident or occupational disease, the exclusivity provision of the Alabama Worker’s Compensation Code would apply.