Kentucky’s workers’ compensation laws were put in place to help protect employees’ health and finances in the event of a workplace injury or illness. With a few exceptions, all employers in Kentucky are required to carry workers’ comp insurance or similar coverage to provide wage replacement and pay medical bills for injured workers. In exchange for this insurance protection, the employee gives up his or her right to sue the employer for injuries or illness sustained on the job.
If you sustain a work-related injury or illness, be sure to follow your employer’s policies for reporting the incident. Generally, you should notify your supervisor/employer immediately by describing the injury or illness, how it happened, and the body part(s) affected. Make sure your employer completes an accident report, but do not sign the report without reading it first. If possible, obtain a copy of the report before you leave your place of employment. Seek medical attention for your work injury or illness as soon as possible. Have the treating physician report your condition to your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to facilitate payment of benefits.
If you are the victim of a work injury or illness, determining the amount of time you have to file suit can be a complicated process. For an on-the-job injury, you generally have two years to file a claim after the date of injury or from the last payment of voluntary disability income benefits—whichever is later. In the case of a work-related illness, you generally have three years to file a claim from the date of your diagnosis or three years after your symptoms were sufficient to indicate the disease—whichever is earlier. Other factors can influence the statute of limitations in a work injury claim, so be sure you contact an experienced work injury attorney at Flora Templeton Stuart to review your case as soon as possible.
Workers’ compensation should pay benefits to employees who are injured or incur an illness while performing regular job duties during normal work hours. Some work injuries are due to an accident or one-time occurrence while other injuries or occupational diseases can develop slowly over time. Common types of work injuries include broken bones, sprains, back or neck injuries, falls, amputations, carpal tunnel syndrome, head or brain injury, respiratory or skin injury due to hazardous substances, repetitive trauma, muscle strain, joint problems, and burns due to faulty equipment. If a worker is injured in an auto accident that occurs while on the clock, he/she may be able to seek workers’ comp benefits as well. Workers’ compensation benefits are generally not paid for injuries that result from horseplay, intoxication, intentional self-infliction, or for auto wrecks that occur on the way to or from work.
Injured workers have certain rights under the Kentucky workers’ comp laws including:
In Kentucky, most employers are required by law to carry workers’ comp insurance, but some exemptions do exist. The most common exemptions include farmworkers, domestic workers employed in a home with less than two full-time employees, and residential workers/repairmen employed by a homeowner for less than 20 consecutive working days. Some other exemptions to Kentucky’s workers’ compensation law do exist. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help you determine if you are covered.
Kentucky employers are required by law to post a Workers’ Compensation Notice in a conspicuous location available to all employees. This notice should include information on what an employee should do if injured on the job, the name of the employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier, and the policy number. You can contact the Department of Workers’ Claims at 1-800-554-8601 if you need more information on how to determine if your employer provides workers’ compensation insurance.
The goal of Kentucky workers’ compensation is to restore employees to suitable employment condition after a work-related injury or illness. In order to do this, workers’ comp assists with three major aspects of the employee’s recovery: payment of medical bills, partial wage replacement, and vocational rehabilitation. Most injured workers only need assistance for medical bills and wage replacement during their recovery period. If the injury or illness prevents the worker from returning to the occupation in which he/she has training or experience, then vocational retaining may be available to the employee. If the work injury or illness results in the employee’s death, the estate and surviving spouse/dependents may be entitled to benefits for funeral expenses or other compensation.
If you are off work due to a work-related injury or illness for more than seven consecutive days, you may be entitled to pay for each day thereafter. If you are off work for more than two weeks, you may be entitled to payment for the first seven days missed as well. These payments are known as “Temporary Total Disability” benefits, or “TTD” for short. These benefits are generally paid at a rate of 2/3 your average weekly wage, up to a maximum set by the government each year and will continue until your condition improves enough to allow you to return to work, or a doctor declares you have reached your maximum medical improvement. If you have reached maximum medical improvement and still cannot return to work, additional benefits may be available to you through workers’ compensation known as “Permanent Partial Disability” (PPD) or “Permanent Total Disability” (PTD). You may also be eligible to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Contact us to learn more about workers’ comp benefits or applying for Social Security disability.
If an employee is killed on the job, or if a work-related injury or illness contributes to a worker’s death, his or her estate may be entitled to recover through workers’ comp insurance. Generally, the compensation is made in the form of a lump-sum payment that can be used for funeral expenses and other costs related to managing the estate. Additionally, the spouse and dependents of the deceased worker may be entitled to certain income benefits through workers’ compensation. In order to qualify for these workers’ benefits, the death must occur within four years of the work-related injury and the death must be related to that injury. Contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney if your loved one has died due to an injury or illness sustained on the job.
If you are the victim of a work-related illness or injury, you have the right to select your own physician without obstruction from your employer. Be aware, however, if your employer is part of a managed care program, you will need to select a physician that is in-network (with a few exceptions). Depending on the type of work injury or illness you sustained, your physician may refer you one or more specialists for further evaluation or treatment. Under Kentucky’s workers’ comp laws, injured employees have the right to change physicians once without question. Additional physician changes require approval. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you with locating physicians to treat the types of injuries or illnesses you have acquired as a result of your job.
Despite laws being in place to protect employees, sometimes employers or their insurance companies don’t want to pay what is owed to an injured worker. The employer or insurance company may claim the injury was pre-existing or that it occurred outside of the employee’s normal job duties or working hours. The result is mounting medical bills for the injured worker with no income coming in to pay them. If you think you are being denied the workers’ comp benefits you are entitled to, or if your employer is pressuring you, call our work injury lawyers at (888) 782-9090.
Some employees may choose to waive their rights to workers’ comp benefits with their employers. By doing so, those employees give up any benefits they would have through workers’ compensation insurance, but they retain the right to sue their employers for work-related injury or illness in civil court.
Even if you waived your rights to workers’ comp benefits, you may still be able to collect damages for your work injury. These cases are very complex and you must prove your employer was involved in wrongdoing or acted a negligent way in order to recover in civil court. If you waived your rights to workers’ compensation benefits with your employer and have been injured on the job, you should contact an experienced work injury lawyer to see if you have a case.
Because filing a workers’ compensation claim can be a very complex process, most injured employees feel it is in their best interest to hire a work injury attorney to help with their claim—although it is not necessary. A workers’ comp lawyer can explain the process and stand up to the employer and insurance company on your behalf. If you think you are being treated unfairly, if your work injury or illness will leave you with a permanent disability, or if your ability to work has been affected by the injury, you should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer right away to evaluate your case.
Attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases are governed by state law and are set up on a contingency basis. That means we only get paid if you get paid for your workplace injury claim. For attorney/client contracts made on or after July 14, 2000, there is a maximum fee an injured worker’s lawyer can charge. For the first $25,000 of the award, the fee is 20%, 15% for the next $10,000 and 5% can be charged for the remainder of the award, not to exceed $12,000. One of our work injury attorneys will explain this to you when you sign a contract with our firm. Call Warren and Barren County, Kentucky personal injury attorney Flora Templeton Stuart at (888) 782-9090 for a free initial consultation twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week.
You can learn more about Kentucky’s workers’ comp laws by visiting these websites: