Yesterday, you went to work, punched your time card, and had a great day. Today, you were hurt on the job. What are you going to do tomorrow? The mortgage is due, bills are piling up, and now you can’t work.
If you are hurt on the job, the workers’ compensation system is set up to pay benefits for your injuries or illnesses so you can hold on to the lifestyle you worked so hard to earn. Unfortunately, your employer’s workers’ comp carrier may try to offer you much less than what you deserve.
It takes courage to deal with a debilitating work injury. It takes courage to fight for the workers’ comp benefits you are owed. Let an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer from Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer give you the Kentucky Courage you need.
Contact us today to set up your free consultation. Our law firm has recovered more than $157 million in workers’ compensation benefits for our hardworking Kentucky clients. We stand ready to fight for you now.
How to File a Workers’ Comp Claim
The Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims (DWC) is the state agency that oversees the workers’ compensation claims process. Although workers can file claims on their own, the system is not very easy to navigate.
First, you must provide notice to your employer. Have a loved one call from the doctor’s office if needed. Never wait more than a week to report your injury. We’ve had courts say 30 days is not too late to report an injury, but don’t stretch it if you know you are hurt.
Right away, follow these steps:
- Tell your employer you’ve been hurt.
- Tell your doctor how you got hurt.
- Make sure to get an “off work slip” if the doctor says you need to stay home.
- Turn that slip into your employer.
If you are unsure whether you are eligible for benefits or need help filing, contact us today for a free consultation.
Should I Get a Lawyer for Workers’ Comp?
Many people believe that they are perfectly capable of handling workers’ compensation claims on their own. After all, it seems like it’s just a matter of filling out some forms, right?
Unfortunately, you can quickly encounter a number of procedural issues and other technicalities that make it more difficult to obtain the benefits you need. A lawyer can be a huge help for you and your family during this stressful time.
Confidence that everything is being handled properly. When you have a workers’ comp injury lawyer on your side, you can have confidence that your original application will be free from the common errors that lead to delays or denials. If your claim has already been denied, a skilled workers’ comp attorney can help you through the appeals process.
Comfort in knowing that all options for compensation are being explored. A Kentucky workers’ comp attorney can conduct an independent investigation into your accident or illness to collect all of the evidence needed to support your claim. This can be very important in a workers’ compensation case. Although employers and co-workers are legally immune from lawsuits, negligent third parties are not. So you may be able to separately sue them for personal injuries. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits if your accident leaves you permanently disabled.
Representation against those that don’t have your best interests at heart. You should not be dealing directly with any insurance company on your own. Insurers are primarily interested in protecting their bottom line and may offer you much less than what you deserve. Let your attorney handle everything for you.
What Do Workers’ Comp Benefits Cover?
Workers’ compensation benefits in Kentucky generally cover three major areas:
- Medical expenses
- Payment for lost wages (usually two-thirds of a person’s average weekly wage)
- Return-to-work services
Additional benefits can include:
- Your choice of a doctor
- Reimbursements for travel, medical devices, and prescriptions
- Payments for loss of hearing, loss of eyesight, facial disfigurement, loss of use of a limb or extremity (hand, foot, finger, arm, leg, toe, etc.)
- Death claims if a family member died from a workplace hazard
Decisions on benefits are customarily made in two ways: either a decision by an administrative law judge (ALJ) or via a settlement reached with an insurance company. An employee awarded benefits continues to receive checks for as long as he or she qualifies for workers’ compensation, but most settlements consist of lump-sum amounts.
Numerous factors can impact the level of benefits awarded or the amount of your settlement. A person’s age, educational level, average weekly wage, ability to return to work, and impairment severity rating can all play roles in the amount a workers’ compensation case ultimately settles for.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Benefits?
The time between an initial application for and receipt of workers’ compensation benefits can vary greatly depending on numerous factors. Some workers are able to get their claims approved very quickly and start receiving benefits within a matter of weeks. Others can encounter problems that create drags on their cases, and it can take several months to resolve the issues.
Do not allow any delay to be used against you, especially if you are in a situation in which a settlement could be a realistic outcome to your case.
In many instances, insurance companies will try to pressure stressed-out workers into accepting lump-sum settlements, knowing that money is tight for the worker. But settlement offers being proposed early on rarely account for all of the costs workers and their families will face. Employees who accept such offers often quickly find that the settlements will not be enough to cover many future bills for physical therapy and rehab, for example, that they then must pay out of their own pockets.
If you need benefits and have been offered a settlement, do not sign anything without talking to our lawyers. We can advise you on what is fair in your case and what to do next.
When You Deserve More Than Workers’ Comp
Although employees cannot file lawsuits against negligent employers and co-workers under Kentucky law, some accidents on the job are actually caused by other negligent third parties. When this is the case, you may also be able to seek compensation through a personal injury claim.
This scenario is very common:
- For example, on-the-job motor vehicle accidents are one of the more common work-related injury claims. When a negligent, non-employee driver caused the crash, workers can seek both workers’ compensation and pursue a personal injury claim.
- Additionally, accidents involving issues with equipment on the job could involve third-party negligence. A maintenance company could be liable for failure to repair certain equipment, or a manufacturer could be responsible for an accident caused by a defective part.
- In some workplaces, such as construction sites, many different companies and contractors may be operating in the same space. If a worker is hurt by negligence on the part of someone outside his or her own employer, a personal injury claim may be an option.
In addition to workers’ comp and personal injury claims, our knowledgeable attorneys often help workers pursue Social Security Disability benefits for catastrophic injuries.
Deadlines for Workplace Injury Claims
A workers’ compensation claim in Kentucky has to be filed within two years of the date of an accident. Otherwise, the injured employee will not be able to recover anything. In the case of an occupational illness, the limitations period is two years from the date a person knew or should have known about the work-related illness.
The wheels of justice can move slowly. Filing a workers’ compensation claim within two years does not mean that your claim will be resolved within two years. Again, you are expected to immediately report any injury to your employer after an accident.
Ultimately, the sooner you begin working with an attorney on your claim, the better.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights After an Injury at Work
- When you have been involved in any accident on the job, seek medical attention promptly.
- Report the accident to your employer immediately. Notify your employer later in writing, as well, if you initially just had to tell your boss before heading to the hospital.
- If you are physically up to it, take pictures and/or videos of the scene of the accident, including hazardous conditions, defective equipment, and your own injuries.
- Write down the names and contact information for any witnesses to your accident.
- Talk to a workers’ comp injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Comp
If you have been hurt on the job, you probably have questions. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys stand ready to address all of your questions and concerns. When you are ready, we invite you to contact us for a free case evaluation to talk about your case.
Can I get workers’ comp benefits after a layoff?
After a layoff or Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notice, you can still be entitled to benefits for your injury on the job. Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer has helped many workers obtain workers’ compensation benefits even after being laid off.
Can I get workers’ comp after a car accident at work?
Yes. Motor vehicle accidents are a very common cause of injuries on the job, among those who travel frequently and even those who do not. Car crashes on the routine commute to or from your primary place of business, however, are not compensable.
What is light duty?
When a doctor approves a plan for light or reduced duty work, the employee is often obligated to accept the assignment. Light duty might be an excuse to decrease workers’ compensation benefits, however. You will want to speak to a lawyer about ensuring that you are truly ready for light duty and that light duty work does not impose requirements that go beyond your present abilities.
How much is a workers’ comp case worth in Kentucky?
Every workers’ compensation case is unique. How much you get in a lump sum workers’ comp settlement depends on many factors, including:
- Your age
- Your education level
- Your average weekly wage
- Your ability to return to work
- The severity of your impairment
To discuss the specifics of your case and what a fair settlement amount should be, please contact us for a free consultation.
Are warehouse workers entitled to workers’ comp?
Warehouse and other transportation workers are entitled to safe workspaces, and thus compensation benefits, even though they may occasionally or regularly work in difficult or dangerous circumstances.
Can steelworkers get workers’ comp benefits?
Steelworkers have jobs that can require them to use very complex and sensitive heavy equipment in highly controlled settings. Accidents can still occur, and workers have the right to seek workers’ compensation injuries for harm suffered on the job.
When should I talk to a lawyer about my industrial injury claim?
The sooner, the better. There are specific deadlines and time limits that must be met when filing your claim. So our attorneys will want to begin investing your case, documenting your injuries, and working on your claim immediately.
What if I am never able to return to any type of work because of injury?
Kentucky law allows permanent total disability benefits if you are unable to work.
Can I draw Social Security benefits at the same time as I am drawing temporary total disability from worker’s comp?
Between Social Security and workers’ comp temporary total disability benefits, you are entitled to receive no more than 80 percent of your highest year’s earnings or your time loss compensation or pension rate, whichever is higher.
Social Security will reduce any retroactive benefits based on the wages you were receiving from the temporary total disability.
Similarly, the DWC will reduce your ongoing benefits based on your Social Security benefits.
Applying for Social Security benefits is ideal if you know you will be disabled for at least one year. Call Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer if you have questions about either program.
Common Workplace Injuries
Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer has handled a wide variety of workplace injury claims. Some of the most common types of injuries we see include:
- Cumulative trauma
- Back injuries and spinal cord injuries
- Head and traumatic brain injuries
- Hearing loss
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Degenerative disc/joint disease
- Amputation and loss of limbs
- Broken bones and fractures
- Coal Workers’ Black Lung Disease (CWP)
- High blood pressure/hypertension
- Burn injury
Our law firm also assists families who have lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident.
Talk to Our Kentucky Workers’ Comp Lawyers Now
Some workers’ comp lawyers will rush your case through. They’ll tell you to “just sign the insurance company’s papers.” They won’t call you back. They won’t answer your questions. They’ll even make you gather all your own evidence.
At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, our workers’ compensation lawyers work on your case like you’re a member of our family. We’ll focus on your claim so you can focus on getting better.
We also practice Social Security Disability law, so if your injuries qualify for disability benefits, we can help with that, too.
Don’t take on the insurance company by yourself. Insurance companies are used to running right over Kentuckians. But not when we step in.
Contact us now to schedule your free consultation.