Connecticut Seal

\

Substitute Senate Bill No. 1336

Public Act No. 05-199

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO STATUTES GOVERNING THE SECOND INJURY FUND.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 31-299b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

If an employee suffers an injury or disease for which compensation is found by the commissioner to be payable according to the provisions of this chapter, the employer who last employed the claimant prior to the filing of the claim, or the employer's insurer, shall be initially liable for the payment of such compensation. The commissioner shall, within a reasonable period of time after issuing an award, on the basis of the record of the hearing, determine whether prior employers, or their insurers, are liable for a portion of such compensation and the extent of their liability. If prior employers are found to be so liable, the commissioner shall order such employers or their insurers to reimburse the initially liable employer or insurer according to the proportion of their liability. Reimbursement shall be made within ten days of the commissioner's order with interest, from the date of the initial payment, at twelve per cent per annum. If no appeal from the commissioner's order is taken by any employer or insurer within twenty days, the order shall be final and may be enforced in the same manner as a judgment of the Superior Court. For purposes of this section, the Second Injury Fund shall not be deemed an employer or an insurer and shall be exempt from any liability. The amount of any compensation for which the Second Injury Fund would be liable except for the exemption provided under this section shall be reallocated among any other employers, or their insurers, who are liable for such compensation according to a ratio, the numerator of which is the percentage of the total compensation for which an employer, or its insurer, is liable and the denominator of which is the total percentage of liability of all employers, or their insurers, excluding the percentage that would have been attributable to the Second Injury Fund, for such compensation.

Sec. 2. Subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of section 31-306 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

(2) To those wholly dependent upon the deceased employee at the date of the deceased employee's injury, a weekly compensation equal to seventy-five per cent of the average weekly earnings of the deceased calculated pursuant to section 31-310, as amended by this act, after such earnings have been reduced by any deduction for federal or state taxes, or both, and for the federal Insurance Contributions Act made from such employee's total wages received during the period of calculation of the employee's average weekly wage pursuant to said section 31-310, as amended by this act, as of the date of the injury but not more than the maximum weekly compensation rate set forth in section 31-309 for the year in which the injury occurred or less than twenty dollars weekly. (A) The weekly compensation rate of each dependent entitled to receive compensation under this section as a result of death arising from a compensable injury occurring on or after October 1, 1977, shall be adjusted annually as provided in this subdivision as of the following October first, and each subsequent October first, to provide the dependent with a cost-of-living adjustment in the dependent's weekly compensation rate as determined as of the date of the injury under section 31-309. If the maximum weekly compensation rate, as determined under the provisions of said section 31-309, to be effective as of any October first following the date of the injury, is greater than the maximum weekly compensation rate prevailing at the date of the injury, the weekly compensation rate which the injured employee was entitled to receive at the date of the injury or October 1, 1990, whichever is later, shall be increased by the percentage of the increase in the maximum weekly compensation rate required by the provisions of said section 31-309 from the date of the injury or October 1, 1990, whichever is later, to such October first. The cost-of-living increases provided under this subdivision shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. The adjustments shall apply to each payment made in the next succeeding twelve-month period commencing with the October first next succeeding the date of the injury. With respect to any dependent receiving benefits on October 1, 1997, with respect to any injury occurring on or after July 1, 1993, and before October 1, 1997, such benefit shall be recalculated to October 1, 1997, as if such benefits had been subject to recalculation annually under this subparagraph. The difference between the amount of any benefits that would have been paid to such dependent if such benefits had been subject to such recalculation and the actual amount of benefits paid during the period between such injury and such recalculation shall be paid to the dependent not later than December 1, 1997, in a lump-sum payment. The employer or its insurer shall be reimbursed by the Second Injury Fund, as provided in section 31-354, for adjustments, including lump-sum payments, payable under this subparagraph for deaths from compensable injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1993, and before October 1, 1997, upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require. No claim for payment of retroactive benefits may be made to the Second Injury Fund more than two years after the date on which the employer or its insurer paid such benefits in accordance with this subparagraph. (B) The weekly compensation rate of each dependent entitled to receive compensation under this section as a result of death arising from a compensable injury occurring on or before September 30, 1977, shall be adjusted as of October 1, 1977, and October 1, 1980, and thereafter, as provided in this subdivision to provide the dependent with partial cost-of-living adjustments in the dependent's weekly compensation rate. As of October 1, 1977, the weekly compensation rate paid prior to October 1, 1977, to the dependent shall be increased by twenty-five per cent. The partial cost-of-living adjustment provided under this subdivision shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. In addition, on each October first, the weekly compensation rate of each dependent as of October 1, 1990, shall be increased by the percentage of the increase in the maximum compensation rate over the maximum compensation rate of October 1, 1990, as determined under the provisions of section 31-309 existing on October 1, 1977. The cost of the adjustments shall be paid by the employer or its insurance carrier who shall be reimbursed for such cost from the Second Injury Fund as provided in section 31-354 upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require. No claim for payment of retroactive benefits may be made to the Second Injury Fund more than two years after the date on which the employer or its insurance carrier paid such benefits in accordance with this subparagraph.

Sec. 3. Subsection (c) of section 31-306 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

(c) (1) The dependents of any deceased employee who was injured between January 1, 1952, and December 31, 1973, and who subsequently dies, shall be paid compensation on account of the death retroactively to the date of the employee's death. The cost of the payment or adjustment shall be paid by the employer or its insurance carrier who shall be reimbursed for such cost from the Second Injury Fund as provided in section 31-354 upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require. No claim for payment of retroactive benefits may be made to the Second Injury Fund more than two years after the date on which the employer or its insurance carrier paid such benefits in accordance with this subdivision.

(2) The dependents of any deceased employee who was injured before January 1, 1952, and who died on or before October 1, 1991, shall be paid compensation on account of the death retroactively to the date of the employee's death. The cost of the payment or adjustment shall be paid by the employer or its insurance carrier who shall be reimbursed for such cost from the Second Injury Fund as provided in section 31-354 upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require. No claim for payment of retroactive benefits may be made to the Second Injury Fund more than two years after the date on which the employer or its insurance carrier paid such benefits in accordance with this subdivision.

Sec. 4. Subsection (d) of section 31-306 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

(d) The dependents of any deceased employee who was injured in an accident arising out of and in the course of employment before January 1, 1952, and who died, as a result of those injuries, after October 1, 1991, shall be paid compensation, under the provisions of this section, effective as of the date of death of any such employee. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the weekly compensation rate for such dependents shall equal the amount of compensation the injured employee was receiving prior to death pursuant to section 31-307. Such weekly compensation rate shall hereafter be adjusted in accordance with the provisions of subsection (a) of this section. The cost of such payment or adjustment shall be paid by the employer or the insurance carrier of such employer who shall be reimbursed for such cost from the Second Injury Fund provided for in section 31-354. No claim for payment of retroactive benefits may be made to the Second Injury Fund more than two years after the date on which the employer or its insurance carrier paid such benefits in accordance with this subsection.

Sec. 5. Section 31-307a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

(a) The weekly compensation rate of each employee entitled to receive compensation under section 31-307 as a result of an injury sustained on or after October 1, 1969, and before July 1, 1993, which totally disables the employee continuously or intermittently for any period extending to the following October first or thereafter, shall be adjusted annually as provided in this subsection as of the following October first, and each subsequent October first, to provide the injured employee with a cost-of-living adjustment in his or her weekly compensation rate as determined as of the date of the injury under section 31-309. If the maximum weekly compensation rate as determined under the provisions of section 31-309, to be effective as of any October first following the date of the injury, is greater than the maximum weekly compensation rate prevailing as of the date of the injury, the weekly compensation rate which the injured employee was entitled to receive at the date of the injury or October 1, 1990, whichever is later, shall be increased by the percentage of the increase in the maximum weekly compensation rate required by the provisions of section 31-309 from the date of the injury or October 1, 1990, whichever is later, to such October first. The cost-of-living increases provided under this subsection shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. The adjustments shall apply to each payment made in the next succeeding twelve-month period commencing with the October first next succeeding the date of the injury.

(b) The weekly compensation rate of each employee entitled to receive compensation under section 31-307 as a result of an injury sustained prior to October 1, 1969, which has disabled the employee for a period extending to October 1, 1969, or thereafter shall be adjusted as of October 1, 1969, and annually thereafter, as provided in this subsection to provide the injured employee with a partial cost-of-living adjustment in his or her weekly compensation rate. The weekly compensation rate paid prior to October 1, 1969, to the injured employee shall be increased as of October 1, 1969, by the amount that the maximum weekly compensation rate as determined under section 31-309 to be effective for injuries sustained on or after October 1, 1969, is greater than the maximum weekly compensation rate as determined under section 31-309 to be effective for injuries sustained on or after October 1, 1965, or the date of the injury, whichever is later, but not more than fifteen dollars per week. Thereafter, increases, if any, for cost-of-living as provided in subsection (a) of this section shall be added to the amount of weekly compensation payable as of the date of the injury or October 1, 1990, whichever is later. The partial cost-of-living adjustments provided under this subsection shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. The adjustments shall apply to each payment made in the next twelve-month period, on or after October 1, 1969. The cost of the adjustments shall be paid by the employer or [his] the employer's insurance carrier who shall be reimbursed therefor from the Second Injury Fund as provided in section 31-354 upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require. No claim for payment of retroactive benefits may be made to the Second Injury Fund more than two years after the date on which the employer or its insurance carrier paid such benefits in accordance with this subsection.

(c) On and after October 1, 1997, the weekly compensation rate of each employee entitled to receive compensation under section 31-307 as a result of an injury sustained on or after July 1, 1993, which totally incapacitates the employee permanently, shall be adjusted as provided in this subsection as of October 1, 1997, or the October first following the injury date, whichever is later, and annually on each subsequent October first, to provide the injured employee with a cost-of-living adjustment in his or her weekly compensation rate as determined as of the date of injury under section 31-309. If the maximum weekly compensation rate, as determined under the provisions of said section 31-309, to be effective as of any October first following the date of the injury, is greater than the maximum weekly compensation rate prevailing as of the date of injury, the weekly compensation rate which the injured employee was entitled to receive as of the date of injury shall be increased by the percentage of the increase in the maximum weekly compensation rate required by the provisions of said section 31-309 from the date of the injury to such October first. The cost-of-living adjustments provided under this subdivision shall be paid by the employer without any order or award from the commissioner. The adjustments shall apply to each payment made in the next succeeding twelve-month period commencing with October 1, 1997, or the October first next succeeding the date of injury, whichever is later. With respect to any employee receiving benefits on October 1, 1997, with respect to any such injury occurring on or after July 1, 1993, and before October 1, 1997, or with respect to any employee who was adjudicated to be totally incapacitated permanently subsequent to the date of his or her injury or is totally incapacitated permanently due to the fact that the employee has been totally incapacitated by such an injury for a period of five years or more, such benefit shall be recalculated to October 1, 1997, to the date of such adjudication or to the end of such five-year period, as the case may be, as if such benefits had been subject to recalculation annually under the provisions of this subsection. The difference between the amount of any benefits which would have been paid to such employee if such benefits had been subject to such recalculation and the actual amount of benefits paid during the period between such injury and such recalculation shall be paid to the dependent not later than December 1, 1997, or thirty days after such adjudication or the end of such period, as the case may be, in a lump-sum payment. The employer or [his] the employer's insurer shall be reimbursed by the Second Injury Fund, as provided in section 31-354, for adjustments, including lump-sum payments, payable under this subsection for compensable injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1993, and before October 1, 1997, upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require. No claim for payment of retroactive benefits may be made to the Second Injury Fund more than two years after the date on which the employer or its insurance carrier paid such benefits in accordance with this subsection.

Sec. 6. Section 31-307b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

If any employee who receives compensation under section 31-307 returns to work after recovery from his or her injury and subsequently suffers total or partial incapacity caused by a relapse from the recovery from, or a recurrence of, the injury, the employee shall be paid a weekly compensation equal to seventy-five per cent of his or her average weekly earnings as of the date of the original injury or at the time of his or her relapse or at the time of the recurrence of the injury, whichever is the greater sum, calculated pursuant to section 31-310, as amended by this act, after such earnings have been reduced by any deduction for federal or state taxes, or both, and for the federal Insurance Contributions Act made from such employee's total wages received during the period of calculation of the employee's average weekly wage pursuant to said section 31-310, as amended by this act, but not more than (1) the maximum compensation rate set pursuant to section 31-309 if the employee suffers total incapacity, or (2) one hundred per cent, raised to the next even dollar, of the average weekly earnings of production and related workers in manufacturing in the state, as determined in accordance with the provisions of section 31-309, if the employee suffers partial incapacity, for the year in which the employee suffered the relapse or recurrent injury and the minimum rate under this chapter for that year, and provided (A) the compensation shall not continue longer than the period of total or partial incapacity following the relapse or recurrent injury and (B) no employee eligible for compensation for specific injuries set forth in section 31-308 shall receive compensation under this section. The employee shall also be entitled to receive the cost-of-living adjustment provided in accordance with the provisions of section 31-307a, as amended by this act, commencing on October first following the relapse or recurrent injury which disables him or her. If the injury occurred originally prior to October 1, 1969, the difference between the employee's original weekly compensation rate and the rate required by this section and the cost-of-living adjustment, if any, thereafter due shall be paid initially by the employer or [his] the employer's insurance carrier who shall be reimbursed for such payment from the Second Injury Fund as provided by section 31-354 upon presentation of any vouchers and information that the Treasurer shall require. No claim for payment of retroactive benefits may be made to the Second Injury Fund more than two years after the date on which the employer or its insurance carrier paid such benefits in accordance with this section. In no event shall the employee receive more than the prevailing maximum compensation.

Sec. 7. Subsection (a) of section 31-310 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

(a) For the purposes of this chapter, the average weekly wage shall be ascertained by dividing the total wages received by the injured employee from the employer in whose service [he] the employee is injured during the fifty-two calendar weeks immediately preceding the week during which [he] the employee was injured, by the number of calendar weeks during which, or any portion of which, the employee was actually employed by the employer, but, in making the computation, absence for seven consecutive calendar days, although not in the same calendar week, shall be considered as absence for a calendar week. When the employment commenced otherwise than at the beginning of a calendar week, that calendar week and wages earned during that week shall be excluded in making the computation. When the period of employment immediately preceding the injury is computed to be less than a net period of two calendar weeks, the employee's weekly wage shall be considered to be equivalent to the average weekly wage prevailing in the same or similar employment in the same locality at the date of the injury except that, when the employer has agreed to pay a certain hourly wage to the employee, the hourly wage so agreed upon shall be the hourly wage for the injured employee and [his] the employee's average weekly wage shall be computed by multiplying the hourly wage by the regular number of hours that is permitted each week in accordance with the agreement. For the purpose of determining the amount of compensation to be paid in the case of a minor under the age of eighteen who has sustained an injury entitling [him] the employee to compensation for total or partial incapacity for a period of fifty-two or more weeks, or to specific indemnity for any injury under the provisions of section 31-308, the commissioner may add fifty per cent to [his] the employee's average weekly wage, except in the case of a minor under the age of sixteen, the commissioner may add one hundred per cent to [his] the minor's average weekly wage. When the injured employee is a trainee or apprentice receiving a subsistence allowance from the United States because of war service, the allowance shall be added to [his] the injured employee's actual earnings in determining the average weekly wage. Where the injured employee has worked for more than one employer as of the date of the injury and the average weekly wage received from the employer in whose employ [he] the injured employee was injured, as determined under the provisions of this section, are insufficient [for him] to obtain the maximum weekly compensation rate from the employer under section 31-309, prevailing as of the date of the injury, [his] the injured employee's average weekly wages shall be calculated upon the basis of wages earned from all such employers in the period of concurrent employment not in excess of fifty-two weeks prior to the date of the injury, but the employer in whose employ the injury occurred shall be liable for all medical and hospital costs and a portion of the compensation rate equal to seventy-five per cent of the average weekly wage paid by [him] the employer to the injured employee, after such earnings have been reduced by any deduction for federal or state taxes, or both, and for the federal Insurance Contribution Act made from such employee's total wages received from such employer during the period of calculation of such average weekly wage, but not less than an amount equal to the minimum compensation rate prevailing as of the date of the injury. The remaining portion of the applicable compensation rate shall be paid from the Second Injury Fund upon submission to the Treasurer by the employer or the employer's insurer of such vouchers and information as the Treasurer may require. For purposes of this subsection, the Second Injury Fund shall not be deemed an employer or an insurer for any claim brought on behalf of an insolvent insurer and shall be exempt from liability, unless such claim is brought not later than thirty days after a determination of such insurer's bankruptcy. No claim for payment of retroactive benefits may be made to the Second Injury Fund more than two years from the date on which the employer or its insurer paid such benefits in accordance with this subsection. In cases which involve concurrent employment and in which there is a claim against a third party, the injured employee or the employer in whose employ the injury was sustained or the employer's insurer shall advise the custodian of the Second Injury Fund if there is a third party claim, and the employee, employer or employer's insurer shall pursue its subrogation rights as provided for in section 31-293 and shall include in its claim all compensation paid by the Second Injury Fund and shall reimburse the Second Injury Fund for all payments made for compensation in the event of a recovery against the third party.

Sec. 8. Section 31-349g of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

(a) [On or before January 1, 1996, the] For purposes of this section:

(1) "Insured employer" means an employer who insures its risks incurred under chapter 568 with an insurance company authorized to issue workers' compensation policies in this state by the Insurance Department, and includes any member of a workers' compensation pool administered by an interlocal risk management agency, and on and after January 1, 2005, an employer mutual association organized prior to June 6, 1996, with a membership composed exclusively of health care providers and whose premium base is derived entirely from health care organizations.

(2) "Self-insured employer" means an employer who is approved to self-insure its liabilities under chapter 568 by the chairman of the Workers' Compensation Commission. For the period commencing October 1, 2004, and ending December 31, 2004, "self-insured employer" includes an employer mutual association organized prior to June 6, 1996, with a membership composed exclusively of health care providers and whose premium base is derived entirely from health care organizations.

(3) "Paid losses" means the total indemnity, medical and any other expenses, prior to any credits or deductions being taken, paid on or after January 1, 2006, by or on behalf of an employer to or on behalf of an injured employee. Paid losses includes all legal expenses paid for the benefit of an injured worker in accordance with chapter 568 and any loss payments within deductible limits on workers' compensation policies.

(4) "Second Injury Fund Surcharge Base" means direct written premium on policies prior to application of any deductible policy premium credits.

(5) "Direct written premium" includes all endorsements, retrospective adjustments, audits and minimum premium and shall be determined without regard to when or whether the premium on the policy is paid.

(6) "Second Injury Fund Surcharge" for insurance companies, interlocal risk management agencies and self-insurance groups means the rate set by the custodian multiplied by the Second Injury Fund Surcharge Base.

(7) "Self-insurance group" means a not-for-profit association consisting of fifteen or more employers who are engaged in the same or similar type of business, who are members of the same bona fide trade or professional association which has been in existence for not less than five years, and who enter into agreements to pool their liabilities for workers' compensation benefits and employers' liability.

(b) The State Treasurer, in consultation with the Insurance Commissioner, [shall] may adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, regarding the method of assessing all employers for the liabilities of the Second Injury Fund. The liabilities shall be allocated between self-insured employers and insured employers based on a percentage of paid losses for the preceding calendar year for each group. No credits shall be taken against paid losses, except voided checks in connection with expenses paid under chapter 568 previously reported as a paid loss, recoveries from third party tortfeasors, reimbursement granted pursuant to section 31-299b, as amended by this act, and Second Injury Fund reimbursements. The method of [assessing] assessment for self-insured employers shall be based on paid losses. The method of assessment for insured employers, [shall be a surcharge based on premium] for policies with effective dates before July 1, 2006, shall be based on the standard premium, and for policies with effective dates on or after July 1, 2006, shall be based on the Second Injury Fund Surcharge Base. In adopting regulations under this section, the State Treasurer shall consider their effect upon (1) the cost of doing business in this state, (2) the overall cost of the workers' compensation system, (3) the effect of the regulations on insurers, insureds and self-insured employers, and (4) the financial condition and liabilities of the fund.

[(b)] (c) An employer mutual association organized prior to June 6, 1996, with a membership composed exclusively of health care providers and whose premium base is derived entirely from health care organizations may make payments without penalty or interest over a five-year period for any outstanding assessment due from the association for the period commencing January 1, 1996, and ending December 31, 2004.

[(c) For purposes of this section:

(1) "Insured employer" includes any member of a workers' compensation pool administered by an interlocal risk management agency, and on and after January 1, 2005, an employer mutual association organized prior to June 6, 1996, with a membership composed exclusively of health care providers and whose premium base is derived entirely from health care organizations.

(2) For the period commencing October 1, 2004, and ending December 31, 2004, "self-insured employer" includes an employer mutual association organized prior to June 6, 1996, with a membership composed exclusively of health care providers and whose premium base is derived entirely from health care organizations. ]

(d) (1) For insured employers and self-insurance groups, the Second Injury Fund Surcharge Base shall initially be reported to the fund in the quarter of the effective date of the policy, regardless of when the policy is billed by the insurance carrier or self-insurance group or paid by the policyholder or member of a self-insurance group. All endorsements, retrospective adjustments and audits shall be reported in the quarter processed by the insurance carrier or group self-insured employer.

(2) The custodian of the fund shall conduct an audit or periodic audits of any self-insured employer, group self-insured employer, insured employer or insurance company acting as collection agent of the Second Injury Fund relative to any information or payment required by the custodian. The employer and insurer shall provide all necessary documents and information in relation to an audit by the custodian in a manner prescribed by the Treasurer. The period of review of an audit shall be not more than three years, except that when the date of the previous audit is less than three years prior to such audit, the period of review shall be to the date of such prior audit. If the audit determines repeated errors or underreporting by an employer or an insurer acting as collection agent of the Second Injury Fund, the fund reserves the right to audit an additional two-year review period. Upon the determination of the Treasurer or the Treasurer's agents, as a result of an audit, that an employer or an insurer acting as collection agent of the Second Injury Fund has not properly reported to the Second Injury Fund and, as a result, has underpaid the assessment or surcharge, the employer or the insurer acting as collection agent of the Second Injury Fund, upon notice from the Treasurer or the Treasurer's agent, shall pay the full amount of the underpaid assessment or surcharge, along with interest and any penalty due not later than thirty days after such notice.

(e) For purposes of collection of the Second Injury Fund Surcharge from insureds and payment of such surcharge to the Second Injury Fund, insurance companies shall be deemed to be collection agents of the Second Injury Fund. The insured employer is liable for payment of the surcharge, and the insurance company shall collect such payment and remit it to the Second Injury Fund in accordance with section 31-354, as amended by this act. Insurance companies shall be subject to the audit provisions of this section and shall be subject to the penalty and interest provisions of this section for failure to remit the surcharge to the Second Injury Fund.

Sec. 9. Section 31-353 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

If the Treasurer and an injured employee, or his legal representative, reach an agreement in regard to compensation payable under [section 31-349] the provisions of chapter 568, such agreement shall be submitted in writing to the commissioner for his approval and, upon approval, shall remain in effect until otherwise ordered by the commissioner. [He] The Treasurer may make payment by way of final settlement in any matter concerning the fund, including matters under section 31-355, as amended by this act, subject to the approval of the commissioner, whenever it is for the best interests of the injured employee.

Sec. 10. Subsection (a) of section 31-354 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

(a) There shall be a fund to be known as the Second Injury Fund. Each employer, other than the state, shall, within thirty days after notice given by the State Treasurer, pay to the State Treasurer for the use of the state a sum in payment of his liability under this chapter which shall be [the special assessment premium surcharge] calculated in accordance with the Second Injury Fund Surcharge Base, as defined in section 31-349g, as amended by this act, and shall be assessed in accordance with subsection (f) of section 31-349, sections 31-349g, as amended by this act, 31-349h and 31-349i, this section, section 31-354b and sections 8 and 9 of public act 96-242*. Such sum shall be an amount sufficient to (1) pay the debt service on state revenue bond obligations authorized to be issued under and for the purposes set forth in section 31-354b including reserve and covenant coverage requirements, (2) provide for costs and expenses of operating the Second Injury Fund, and (3) pay Second Injury Fund stipulations on claims settled by the custodian or other benefits payable out of the Second Injury Fund and not funded through state revenue bond obligations and shall be determined in accordance with the regulations adopted pursuant to the provisions of section 31-349g, as amended by this act. The custodian shall establish a factor for the annual [special assessment premium] surcharge that caps such surcharge for the fiscal years ending June 30, 1996, 1997 and 1998. In determining such factor the custodian shall consider the funding mechanism authorized by subsection (f) of section 31-349, sections 31-349g, as amended by this act, 31-349h and 31-349i, this section, section 31-354b and sections 8 and 9 of public act 96-242*, recognize that an acceptable level of employer assessment is important to the vitality of the economy of the state and nevertheless shall assure provision of services to injured workers that enhances their ability to return to work and improve their quality of life. In any event, such factor shall not exceed, with respect to insured employers, a rate of fifteen per cent on the [standard premiums] Second Injury Fund Surcharge Base with respect to workers' compensation and employers' liability policies and, with respect to self-insured employers, a comparable percentage limitation representing their pro rata share of any [special] assessment. [premium surcharge. ] Any employer or any insurance company acting as collection agent for the custodian of the Second Injury Fund who fails to pay in accordance with such regulations shall pay [interest] a penalty to the State Treasurer [on the sum at the rate] of fifteen per cent [per annum from the date the sum should have been paid until the date of payment] or a minimum of fifty dollars on the unpaid assessment or surcharge. Interest at the rate of six per cent per annum shall be charged on any amounts owed on assessment audits or surcharge audits. For self-insured employers interest shall accrue thirty days after notice from the Second Injury Fund of the unpaid audit assessment. For insurance companies, the interest shall accrue from the date of the notice of audit errors or deficiencies as determined by the date postmarked by the United States Postal Service. The State Treasurer shall notify each employer of the penalty or interest provision with the notice of assessment. [Effective July 1, 1993, whenever the assessment is levied, the State Treasurer shall pay to the fund, on behalf of the state, a sum not to exceed the total amount of money expended by the fund on behalf of state employees during the period following the last assessment. ] Any partial payments made to the fund shall be first applied to any unpaid penalty, then to any unpaid interest and the remainder, if any, to the unpaid assessment or surcharge. Interest or penalties shall be applied if assessment or surcharge reports or payments are postmarked by the United States Postal Service after the designated due date. The sums received shall be accounted for separately and apart from all other state moneys and the faith and credit of the state of Connecticut is pledged for their safekeeping. The State Treasurer shall be the custodian of the fund and all disbursements from the fund shall be made by [him or his] the Treasurer or the Treasurer's deputies. The moneys of the fund shall be invested by [him] the Treasurer in accordance with applicable law and section 8 of public act 96-242*. Interest, income and dividends from the investments shall be credited to the fund. Each employer, each private insurance carrier acting on behalf of any employer and each interlocal risk management agency acting on behalf of any employer shall annually, on or before April first, report to the State Treasurer, in the form prescribed by the State Treasurer, the amount of money expended by or on behalf of the employer in payments for the preceding calendar year. Each private insurance carrier, each self-insurance group and each interlocal risk management agency shall submit annually, on or before April first, to the State Treasurer, in the form prescribed by the State Treasurer, a report of the total [standard earned premium] Second Injury Fund Surcharge Base collected in the preceding calendar year and a report of the projected total [standard earned premium] Second Injury Fund Surcharge Base for the current calendar year. The fund shall be used to provide the benefits set forth in section 31-306, as amended by this act, for adjustments in the compensation rate and payment of certain death benefits, in section 31-307b, as amended by this act, for adjustments where there are relapses after a return to work, in section 31-307c for totally disabled persons injured prior to October 1, 1953, in section 31-349 for disabled or handicapped employees and in section 31-355, as amended by this act, for the payment of benefits due injured employees whose employers or insurance carriers have failed to pay the compensation, and medical expenses required by this chapter, or any other compensation payable from the fund as may be required by any provision contained in this chapter or any other statute and to reimburse employers or insurance carriers for payments made under subsection (b) of section 31-307a, as amended by this act. The assessment required by this section is a condition of doing business in this state and failure to pay the assessment, when due, shall result in the denial of the privilege of doing business in this state or to self-insure under section 31-284. Any administrative or other costs or expenses incurred by the State Treasurer in connection with carrying out the provisions of this part, including the hiring of necessary employees, shall be paid from the fund. The State Treasurer may adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, prescribing the practices, policies and procedures to be followed in the administration of the Second Injury Fund.

Sec. 11. Section 31-355 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

(a) The commissioner shall give notice to the Treasurer of all hearing of matters [which] that may involve payment from the Second Injury Fund, and may make an award directing the Treasurer to make payment from the fund.

(b) When an award of compensation has been made under the provisions of this chapter against an employer who [fails] failed, neglected, refused or is unable to pay [medical and surgical aid or hospital and nursing service required under this chapter or any type of compensation for disability, or both, whether for total or partial disability of a permanent or temporary nature, death benefit, funeral expense,] any type of benefit coming due as a consequence of such award or any adjustment in compensation required by this chapter, and whose insurer [fails or] failed, neglected, refused or is unable to pay the compensation, such compensation shall be paid from the Second Injury Fund. The commissioner, on a finding of failure or inability to pay compensation, shall give notice to the Treasurer of the award, directing the Treasurer to make payment from the fund. Whenever liability to pay compensation is contested by the Treasurer, the Treasurer shall file with the commissioner, on or before the twenty-eighth day after [he] the Treasurer has received an order of payment from the commissioner, a notice in accordance with a form prescribed by the chairman of the Workers' Compensation Commission stating that the right to compensation is contested, the name of the claimant, the name of the employer, the date of the alleged injury or death and the specific grounds on which the right to compensation is contested. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the employee. The commissioner shall hold a hearing on such contested liability at the request of the Treasurer or the employee in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. If the Treasurer fails to file the notice contesting liability within the time prescribed in this section, the Treasurer shall be conclusively presumed to have accepted the compensability of such alleged injury or death from the Second Injury Fund and shall have no right thereafter to contest the employee's right to receive compensation on any grounds or contest the extent of the employee's disability.

(c) The employer and the insurer, if any, shall be liable to the state for any payments made out of the fund in accordance with this section or which the [state] Treasurer has by award become obligated to make from the fund, together with cost of attorneys' fees as fixed by the court. If reimbursement is not made, or a plan for payment to the fund has not been agreed to by the Treasurer and employer, [within] not later than ninety days [of] after any payment from the fund, the Attorney General shall bring a civil action, in the superior court for the judicial district where the award was made, to recover all amounts paid by the fund pursuant to the award, plus double damages together with reasonable attorney's fees and costs as taxed by the court. Any amount paid to the Treasurer by the employer or insurer after the filing of an action, but prior to its completion, shall be subject to an interest charge of eighteen per cent per annum, calculated from the date of original payment from the fund.

(d) Any recovery made under this section, including any recovery for costs or attorney's fees, shall be paid into the fund. Any administrative or other costs or expenses incurred by the Attorney General in connection with carrying out the purposes of this section, including the hiring of necessary employees, shall be paid from the fund. The Treasurer shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, which describe what constitutes a proper and sufficient "plan for payment to the fund" for the purposes of this section.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) to (d), inclusive, of this section, whenever the employer's insurer has been determined to be insolvent, as defined in section 38a-838, payments required under this section shall be the obligation of the Connecticut Insurance Guaranty Association pursuant to the provisions of sections 38a-836 to 38a-853, inclusive.

(f) Notwithstanding subsection (b) of this section, the commissioner may approve a stipulated settlement for benefits between an injured worker and the Treasurer under this chapter at any time prior to or after the issuance of a finding and award against the employer if the commissioner determines that it is in the best interest of the injured workers to do so. Notice of the proposed settlement shall be sent to the employer by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the employer's last known address on file with the Secretary of the State or local postal authority. The commissioner shall hold a hearing on such proposed settlement at the request of the employer in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. If the employer does not file with the Workers' Compensation Commission a written objection to the proposed settlement not later than twenty-eight days after the date of the notice to the employer of the proposed settlement, the employer shall be deemed to have consented to the proposed settlement and may not thereafter contest the terms of the settlement in any forum. Where payment has been ordered under this subsection, the terms of such order shall have the same status and be governed by the same provisions as an award issued pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(g) Nothing in this section shall preclude the Treasurer from entering into an agreement with the employer for the reimbursement of expenses, costs or benefits paid by the fund. The Treasurer, the uninsured employer, the injured worker, or the injured worker's beneficiaries, or a third party who is liable under section 31-293 may enter into a settlement agreement to finally or partially settle the rights and liabilities of any or all parties under this chapter, subject to the approval of the commissioner.

(h) When a finding and award of compensation has been made against an uninsured employer who fails to pay it, that compensation shall be paid from the Second Injury Fund, and if there are further claims for any related, reasonable and necessary treatment, payment shall by provided to the claimant without a subsequent finding and award.

Sec. 12. Subdivision (4) of section 38a-844 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2006):

(4) The association shall have the right to recover from the following persons the amount of any covered claim paid on behalf of such person pursuant to sections 38a-836 to 38a-853, inclusive: (A) Any person who is an affiliate of the insolvent insurer and whose liability obligations to other persons are satisfied in whole or in part by payments made under this chapter; and (B) any insured whose net worth on December thirty-first of the year next preceding the date the insurer becomes an insolvent insurer exceeds fifty million dollars and whose liability obligations to other persons are satisfied in whole or in part by payments made under said sections. For purposes of this subdivision, "insured" does not include a municipality, as defined in section 7-148, or the Second Injury Fund, established in section 31-354, as amended by this act.

Approved July 1, 2005