Kentucky State Workers' Comp Law
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Kentucky State Workers' Comp Law
Kentucky state workers' compensation law requires employers to purchase insurance that offers coverage for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. The coverage pays for medical treatment, a percentage of lost wages, new job training, and death benefits for survivors in cases of a work-related fatality.
Employees are not responsible for copayments or deductibles for medical care, no matter how long rehabilitation takes. Injured or ill workers are eligible to receive wage replacement while they recover and may continue to get paid depending on the severity and permanence of the disability.
While this safety net is a boon for Kentucky workers, sometimes legal disputes come up, and you may wonder if hiring a worker's compensation lawyer is suitable for your situation. Typically, you'll want legal representation if you've been seriously injured, your problem is complex, you have a pre-existing condition, or you have a conflict with your employer or insurance company. Morgan and Morgan can provide valuable assistance to make sure your claim is resolved favorably.
For more information, contact us for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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Who Is Eligible to Receive Workers' Comp Benefits in Kentucky?
Most workers are eligible for workers' comp benefits, whether they work for private businesses or the state and local governments, with a few exceptions. Your status does not matter. That means whether you've just been hired, are part-time, seasonal, or temporary. Even some employees who are categorized as independent contractors may be eligible depending on specific job details. Miscategorizing an employee can lead to a dispute concerning workers' comp eligibility and other benefits and protections.
Kentucky workers' compensation law does not protect employees of the federal government, railroad, and maritime workers. Instead, they have their own individual programs for injured employees.
What Type of Worker Is Ineligible for Kentucky Workers' Comp Benefits?
Unfortunately, volunteers, domestic house workers (nannies, babysitters, in-home cooks, cleaners, gardeners), agricultural employees, and legitimate independent contractors may not have access to workers' comp benefits in Kentucky. However, if you're unsure of your standing regarding the law, one of our workers' compensation lawyers can give you answers.
What Qualifies as a Work-Related Injury Under Kentucky Law?
Almost any injury that is sustained while performing work duties would qualify as a work-related injury. This includes injuries that progress over time, such as carpal tunnel and other conditions that develop from repetitive movements. Additionally, injuries or illnesses accelerated or exacerbated through work-related functions are included, but naturally occurring issues that arise from the aging process are not (such as a heart attack or high blood pressure). Illnesses that occur from workplace exposure to chemicals are also categorized as work-related injuries. To date, psychiatric conditions are not recognized as work-related in reference to workers’ comp benefits unless the condition is directly linked to a physical injury.
Injuries that are purposely self-inflicted, or that transpire from engaging in horseplay, or occur while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are generally not accepted as work-related injuries that would make you eligible to collect workers' comp. Furthermore, injuries that occur while commuting to and from work are not covered.
What Should I Do if I'm Injured at Work in Kentucky?
Anytime you're injured on the job or become aware that you've developed a work-related illness, you are required to notify your employer as soon as possible. In most cases, you'll be able to choose which doctor you work with, except if your employer has a specified managed care plan in place which requires you to use a provider under that program.
Once your employer is notified, it's their responsibility to initiate workers' comp benefits in a reasonable amount of time. They should provide you with the necessary forms for either an injury or an occupational disease claim. Be prepared to fill out paperwork regarding your employment and medical history, as well as a Medical Waiver and Consent and Social Security Release form. Additionally, you'll need a report from your treating physician detailing the link between your condition and the work-related event that led to it and documentation of your wages when the incident occurred.
How Long Is Kentucky's Workers' Compensation Waiting Period?
The waiting period for wage replacement is seven days. You will start to receive wage replacement benefits once you are out of work for more than seven days. If you're out of work for more than 14 days, you'll be reimbursed for the first seven days.
What Kind of Medical Benefits Am I Eligible for Under Kentucky's Workers' Comp Law?
Employers are responsible for paying for all reasonable medical expenses that are related to the "cure and relief of injury" under Kentucky's workers' comp law. Medical expenses can include doctor visits, surgery, medications, hospital stays, emergency room visits, nursing care, diagnostic testing, medical devices, rehabilitation, chiropractic care, and travel expenses. You can present these bills to your employer and expect reimbursement within 30 days.
How Does Wage Replacement Work in Kentucky?
While recovering, you can expect to get two-thirds of your average weekly wage in Kentucky. These payments are not subject to federal or state taxes, so while it's not your full wage, the payments should be close to what you're used to earning. The amount you receive is determined by reviewing your last year's average weekly wages, including overtime. However, there is a limit to the amount you can receive, which is currently $1,118.43 weekly.
How Long Can You Receive Workers' Comp in Kentucky?
The length of time you can collect workers' comp wage replacement and medical care benefits will depend on the severity of your injury. The timespan you can receive payments will depend on your disability rating. In a workers' comp claim, disability ratings determine whether you get permanent disability payments and in what amount.
Disability rating disputes, along with claim denials, are often a precursor to hiring a workers' compensation lawyer. When you're injured on the job, your primary concern is receiving medical treatment. Depending on your job duties and the type of injury you sustain, the treating physician may determine you should not go back to work or assign work restrictions (light duty, such as standing at a receptionist's counter instead of serving tables in a restaurant, for example.) Unfortunately, Kentucky does not offer wage benefits if you can work in a position that pays less while you fully recover.
When a doctor determines that you've recovered to the "maximum medical improvement (MMI)," you'll then be analyzed for a permanent disability and assigned a disability rating. How long you can receive workers' comp will be based on this rating. If you have a permanent partial disability rating of 50% or less, benefits last for 425 weeks. If your rating exceeds 50%, you get benefits for 520 weeks.
Suppose you have a permanent total disability that makes it so you can never work again. In that case, you should get benefits for life until you're of age to receive full Social Security retirement benefits.
What Is a Disability Rating, and How Is It Determined?
A physician will give you a physical examination and test your ability to perform routine activities. During this examination, they'll evaluate how well you can do things like lift objects and test your balance and range of motion. A guideline is used to come up with your permanent disability rating and is usually assigned in percentages. For example, if you have an impairment of an arm, you might be given a 20% permanent disability rating. If you're fully recovered and have no impairment, your disability rating will be 0%, and you can no longer receive wage replacement benefits.
If your employer's workers' comp insurance company disputes the rating, it can request an independent medical examination (IME). You'll have to undergo an additional exam and be assigned a rating based on the doctor's determination.
There may be a discrepancy between the initial rating and the one determined by the IME doctor. At this point, a workers' comp judge may choose between the two or order yet another exam.
Can a Company Fire You While You Are on Workers' Comp in Kentucky?
You can get fired or laid off while collecting workers' comp, but the reasons behind the decision must be legitimate. For example, if you're fired because of disciplinary reasons or your position at the company has been eliminated, these are legal reasons to terminate you. However, your employer cannot fire or lay you off simply because you filed a workers' compensation claim. Filing a claim for a legitimate workplace injury is a protected action, and any steps by your employer to retaliate for exercising your rights are illegal.
However, your employer is under no legal obligation to hold your job for you until you recover or provide you with a similar role upon your ability to return to work. If you suspect you were fired or laid off simply because you filed a workers' compensation claim, you need to talk to a Morgan and Morgan workers' compensation lawyer right away. We can help you take the legal action required for workplace retaliation and protect your rights. You may be able to file a civil lawsuit to recover lost income, and if the reason behind your termination was defamatory, you might be able to collect further damages.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Kentucky Workers' Compensation Claim?
Anytime you feel as though your rights are being trampled on or your case becomes complicated, a workers' compensation lawyer can be a strong advocate. Here are some scenarios where it would make sense to get legal representation:
- Your employer (or its insurance company) denies your claim.
- Your benefits do not commence in a timely manner.
- A settlement offer doesn't sufficiently cover lost wages and medical bills.
- Your disability prevents you from returning to your prior position, limits what job duties you can perform, or prevents you from working altogether.
- You plan to receive Social Security disability benefits.
- You experience workplace retaliation for filing a workers' comp claim.
- Your injury was the result of a third party (a contractor was negligent and caused your injury, for example).
- You have a preexisting condition that was worsened by workplace duties
- Your injury was the result of severe or intentional misconduct by your employer.
Why Work With Morgan and Morgan
When it comes to matters that are as important as your health and financial future, you shouldn't leave things up to chance. We work with clients to ensure paperwork is filled out correctly and critical deadlines are met, as well as perform investigations and compile evidence to help your case.
While the Kentucky Workers' Compensation system is meant to be a safety net for injured workers, too often, the greed of insurance companies or bad intent by employers causes problems.
You may be able to navigate minor issues on your own. Still, if the process becomes complicated or decisions aren't leaning in your favor, the guidance of an experienced Kentucky workers' compensation lawyer can help immensely. We only take a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation if we're able to conclude your legal matter successfully. If not, you don't owe us a cent.
Contact us today for a free evaluation.