(a) The commission shall establish a Workers' Compensation Fund from the premiums and other funds paid thereto by employers, as provided in this section, for the benefit of employees of employers who have paid the premiums applicable to the employers and have otherwise complied fully with the provisions of section five, article two of this chapter, and for the benefit, to the extent elsewhere in this chapter set out, of employees of employers who have elected, under section nine, article two of this chapter, to make payments into the Workers' Compensation Fund as provided for in this section, and for the benefit of the dependents of all the employees, and for the payment of the administration expenses of this chapter. The Workers' Compensation Fund created pursuant to this article shall terminate upon termination of the commission and its proceeds shall be distributed as set forth in article two-c of this chapter.
(b) A portion of all premiums that are paid into the Workers' Compensation Fund by subscribers not electing to carry their own risk under section nine, article two of this chapter that is set aside to create and maintain a reserve of the fund to cover the catastrophe hazard and all losses not otherwise specifically provided for in this chapter. The percentage to be set aside is determined pursuant to the rules adopted to implement section four, article two of this chapter and shall be in an amount sufficient to maintain a solvent fund. All interest earned on investments by the Workers' Compensation Fund, which is attributable to the reserve, shall be credited to the fund. Effective upon termination of the commission, all funds in the catastrophe fund shall be transferred into the old fund, all claims payable as a consequence of a catastrophe hazard shall be payable from the old fund and any premiums due under this article shall be payable to the old fund. Employers shall purchase catastrophe insurance from the company or another private carrier and shall also reinsure their catastrophic risk.
(c) A catastrophe is hereby defined as an accident in which three or more employees are killed or receive injuries which, in the case of each individual, consist of: Loss of both eyes or the sight thereof; loss of both hands or the use thereof; loss of both feet or the use thereof; or loss of one hand and one foot or the use thereof. The aggregate of all medical and hospital bills and other costs and all benefits payable on account of a catastrophe is defined as "catastrophe payment". In case of a catastrophe to the employees of an employer who is an ordinary premium-paying subscriber to the fund, or to the employees of an employer who, having elected to carry the employer's own risk under section nine, article two of this chapter, has previously elected, or may later elect, to pay into the catastrophe reserve of the fund under the provisions of said section, the catastrophe payment arising from the catastrophe shall not be charged against, or paid by, the employer but shall be paid from the catastrophe reserve of the fund.
(d) For all awards made on or after the effective date of the amendments to this section enacted during the year two thousand three, the following provisions relating to second injury are not applicable. For awards made before the date specified in this subsection, if an employee who has a definitely ascertainable physical impairment, caused by a previous occupational injury, occupational pneumoconiosis or occupational disease, irrespective of its compensability, becomes permanently and totally disabled through the combined effect of the previous injury and a second injury received in the course of and as a result of his or her employment, the employer shall be chargeable only for the compensation payable for the second injury: Provided, That in addition to the compensation, and after the completion of the payments therefor, the employee shall be paid the remainder of the compensation that would be due for permanent total disability out of the workers' compensation fund. The procedure by which the claimant's request for a permanent total disability award under this section is ruled upon shall require that the issue of the claimant's degree of permanent disability first be determined. Thereafter, by means of a separate order, a decision shall be made as to whether the award is a second injury award under this subsection or a permanent total disability award to be charged to the employer's account or to be paid directly by the employer if the employer has elected to be self-insured employer under the provisions of section nine, article two of this chapter.
(e) Employers electing, as provided in this chapter, to compensate individually and directly their injured employees and their fatally injured employees' dependents shall do so in the manner prescribed by the commission and shall make all reports and execute all blanks, forms and papers as directed by the commission, and as provided in this chapter.