Section 25-5-316

Workers' Compensation Administrative Trust Fund; creation; management; trustee and custodian; assessments; penalties.

(a) There is established in the State Treasury a fund entitled the Workers' Compensation Administrative Trust Fund, into which shall be deposited certain assessments provided under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 25-5-1) of Title 25 collected by the Department of Labor. The fund shall constitute a separate fund to be disbursed by the state Comptroller on order of the Secretary of the Department of Labor. All expenses incurred by the department under the Workers' Compensation Law, including the salaries of all employees, travel cost, and any other cost of administration and enforcement as may become necessary, either within or without the state, shall be paid from the separate fund in the State Treasury upon warrants of the state Comptroller drawn upon the State Treasury from time to time when vouchers therefor are approved by the secretary. The State Treasurer shall pay moneys from the separate fund upon the order of the secretary. The total expense for every purpose incurred shall not exceed the total assessment collected and paid into the fund. The total expense for every purpose incurred in implementing this article shall not exceed the amount appropriated by the Legislature in the general fund appropriation act. No funds shall be withdrawn or expended except those budgeted and allocated in accordance with Article 4 (commencing with Section 41-4-80) of Chapter 4 of Title 41. All moneys remaining unexpended in the separate fund at the end of the fiscal year shall remain in the State Treasury to be expended as herein provided. Included in the budget shall be an amount of money allocated for the specific and exclusive purpose of paying only benefits to the claimants who have qualified to receive benefits from the Second Injury Trust Fund on May 19, 1992. Payments of these benefits shall be made weekly. The secretary shall each week make requisitions to the state Comptroller who shall draw warrants on the State Treasurer for the weekly compensation amount. The warrants shall be drawn only if there are sufficient moneys in the Treasury for immediate payment. Claims shall take priority in an ascending numerical order according to the time of the accident, and the time shown in the settlement between the employer and employee shall be prima facie evidence of the time of the accident. No funds allocated for the payment of benefits from the fund shall be used to pay lump-sum attorney's fees. Payment shall resume at the end of the first week of the fiscal year in which the Legislature approves the requested budget for the Workers' Compensation Administrative Trust Fund. The claimants who were receiving weekly benefits from the Second Injury Trust Fund as of August 31, 1991, shall be paid all weekly benefits due to date and the benefits shall be continued for the duration of claim. Those amounts shall be paid from the moneys as allocated.

(b) The State Treasurer shall determine if the money in the trust fund shall be kept in cash or invested. The moneys in the fund may be invested by the State Treasurer and all moneys and interest remaining unexpended in the separate fund provided at the end of the fiscal year shall remain in the State Treasury to be expended as herein provided.

(c) The secretary is designated as trustee of the fund and the State Treasurer is designated as custodian of the fund, and both shall furnish bonds in amounts deemed appropriate. The cost of bonds for the trustee, custodian, and other employees or officials required to post bond in connection with the program shall be paid out of the fund.

(d) Each insurance carrier, self-insured employer, and group fund shall be assessed $250.00. The gross claims for compensation and medical payments paid by the carriers, self-insured employers, and group funds are the basis for computing the amount to be assessed. The amount of assessment shall be based upon the proportion that the total gross claims for compensation and medical payments paid by the carrier, self-insured employer, or group fund during the preceding calendar year bore to the total gross claims for compensation and medical payments paid by all carriers, self-insured employers, and group funds during that period. The total assessment shall not exceed $5,000,000.00 per year. The secretary shall determine if the assessment shall be a specific amount or shall be a percentage of gross claims for compensation and medical payments paid by the insurance carriers, self-insured employers, and group funds. An assessment shall not exceed an amount reasonably necessary to defray the necessary administration expense.

(e) The department shall provide by regulation for the collection of the amounts assessed against each insurance carrier, self-insured employer, and group fund. The amounts shall be paid within 30 days from the date that the notice is served upon the insurance carrier, self-insured employer, and group fund. If the amounts are not paid within that period, there may be assessed, for each 30 days that the amount so assessed remains unpaid, a civil penalty equal to 10 percent of the amount unpaid. The amount of the civil penalty shall be collected at the same time the amount assessed is collected.

(f) If an insurance carrier, self-insured employer, or group fund fails to pay the amounts assessed against it within 60 days from the time the notice is served, the department may suspend or revoke the authorization to the self-insurer and may request that the Department of Insurance revoke the authority of the insurance company to insure workers' compensation.

(g) The department may require from each insurance carrier, self-insured employer, and group fund reports with respect to all payments of compensation and medical payments by the insurance carriers, self-insured employers, or group funds during each calendar year, and may determine the amounts paid by each insurance carrier, self-insured employer, and group fund and may determine the amounts paid by all insurance carriers, self-insured employers, and group funds during the period.

(h) On or before the first day of March of each year, every insurance carrier, self-insured employer, and group fund shall file with the department a statement on the prescribed forms showing the gross claims for compensation and medical payments paid by the insurance carrier, self-insured employer, or group fund during the preceding one-year period ending on the 31st day of December. Any insurance carrier, self-insured employer, or group fund which neglects to file its annual written statement within the time provided in this manner shall pay to the Workers' Compensation Administrative Trust Fund a penalty for each day's neglect in an amount prescribed by rule of the secretary.

(i) All money collected under this section shall be deposited in the Workers' Compensation Administrative Trust Fund.

(Acts 1992, No. 92-537, p. 1082, §48.)