If you are injured while on the job and cannot return to work, this will cause a major disruption in your life. However, Kentucky’s workers’ compensation program is designed to provide you with financial support as you recover from the trauma you have suffered.
Kentucky workers’ compensation benefits include payments for all injury-related medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, payments to dependents of workers killed on the job and other payments in certain circumstances. Most Kentucky employers are required by law to maintain workers’ compensation insurance.
However, workers’ compensation is a complex program that is unfamiliar to most injured workers. It is possible to file a valid workplace injury claim and have it disputed or denied. It is even more likely that you may receive less than the full benefits you are entitled to by law. It takes courage to keep fighting. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer from Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer can guide you through the appeals process if your KY workers’ comp claim has been denied.
Sometimes, it takes Kentucky Courage to claim the full workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, we’ll fight for you.
Starting Your KY Workers’ Compensation Claim
As soon as you realize that a job-related injury or work-related illness will keep you out of work for more than seven days, you should notify your employer in writing about your work-related condition. Inform your employer as soon as possible, preferably within a week of being injured. Explain the circumstances – a traumatic injury in an on-the-job accident or a medical diagnosis of an occupational illness – with cause, date, time, place and other details.
Keep a copy of the correspondence and other documents related to your injury or illness.
If you have suffered an injury, be sure to tell any doctor who treats you that you were injured while on the job. If you are ill, your doctor should ask about environmental factors that may have caused your illness. Be sure to explain any potentially harmful workplace exposures you have had.
Ask the doctor for a note explaining that you should not return to work and give it to your employer.
Filing Your Kentucky Workers’ Comp Claim
When it comes to filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in Kentucky, you should know that on its own website, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, which administers workers’ compensation, says:
“Due to the complexity of the claims process, most injured workers hire an attorney to file a workers’ compensation claim for them.”
The Kentucky Labor Cabinet states this twice in four paragraphs on a single page. Further it says:
“Employees may choose to represent themselves, but they will be held to the same standards as attorneys who present workers’ compensation claims.”
You have two years from the date of your accident to file most claims for workers’ comp benefits. For an illness, you have two years from when you knew or should have known you were ill. In some cases, you may have three years. However, you should file – or hire a lawyer to assist you – as soon as you are able to do so.
Filing a claim requires completing and submitting an Application for Resolution of a Claim (scroll down here). Once the claim is filed, it is routed to the Division of Claims Processing for review and assignment. Claims Processing makes sure all necessary information has been submitted, identifies the claimant’s insurance coverage, and notifies the employer, insurer and any other relevant parties of the claim.
If you do not have a lawyer, you must mail the application to:
Department of Workers’’ Claims
500 Mero Street, 3rd Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(If you have a lawyer, you are allowed to file the application online.)
You should receive an Acknowledgement Letter with the date that the KY Labor Cabinet received your Application for Resolution of a Claim.
The Claims Assignment section sorts claim applications according to regions based on the county where the claimant lives and assigns it to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You should be notified by letter that your claim has been assigned to an judge and scheduled for a Benefit Review Conference at one of the nine hearing sites operated by the KY Department of Workers’ Claims.
The Benefit Review Conference is the first chance for all parties involved to discuss your claim, It is an informal meeting designed to help define and narrow the issues of the claim, discuss settlement options and consider other matters that may help to resolve the claim.
At the Benefit Review Conference you will be before a judge and across the table from your employer and/or his or her insurance company’s representatives, typically lawyers with extensive claims experience. You are always at a disadvantage if you are dealing directly with an insurance company without an attorney to represent you.
This is most likely your first workplace injury and first dealings with the Kentucky workers’ compensation system. The people across the table from you at a Benefit Review Conference do this every day.
The alternative is to hire a Kentucky workers’ compensation attorney to handle your claim for you. As your attorneys, we will make sure your claim application meets the anticipated standards and is free of common errors and omissions that lead to delays or denials. If your claim has already been denied, our skilled workers’ comp attorneys can represent your interests throughout the appeals process.
Workers’ Comp Benefits in Kentucky
A successful workers’ compensation claim in Kentucky should yield benefits to assist the injured worker financially with:
- Paid medical care, including emergency assistance, doctors’ and hospitalization bills, and rehabilitation costs, as well as reimbursement for prescription medications and durable medical devices, such as wheelchair, orthopedic appliances and hospital bed.
- Lost wage / salary payment of two-thirds of the claimant’s average weekly pay
- Return-to-work services, such as vocational or occupational rehabilitation, or education or training necessary to assume a new job, including tuition, textbooks and other associated expenses
- Stipends for loss of hearing, loss of eyesight, facial disfigurement, loss of use of a limb or hand, foot, finger, arm, leg, toe
- Stipends for dependent family members of a worker who died from a workplace hazard
Workers’ compensation law recognizes three types of disability — temporary total disability (TTD), permanent partial disability (PPD) and permanent total disability (PTD). It establishes disability income benefit payments for each type. Payments depend upon the employee’s average weekly wage and the extent of impairment, which is determined by the KY department of workers’ compensation and stated as a disability rating.
In most cases of severe injury, the worker recovers and eventually returns to work. During their recovery, the employer’s insurance company pays temporary disability benefits. Payment of temporary disability benefits ends when the employee recovers sufficiently to be able to return to work or when a physician reports that an employee has reached maximum medical improvement.
If a worker will have a permanent disability, as a result of the workplace injury, the worker is assigned a permanent impairment rating by a physician based on the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. A permanent impairment rating means the percentage of whole body functional impairment caused by the injury or occupational disease.
The amount of a claimant’s PPD and PTD payments are based on the permanent impairment rating assigned to them by a physician. Payments are set according to formulas set down in state law (K.R.S. 342.730), with the statutory minimum for total disability set at 20% of the state’s average weekly wage.
When a worker has been permanently disabled, his or her permanent impairment rating is typically key to the workers’ compensation settlement and financial well-being in the years ahead.
Obtaining the proper permanent impairment rating requires making sure that claim evaluators from the KY Department of Workers’ Compensation claim and the judge hearing your case has a full and accurate depiction of the extent of your injuries.
Questions About Filing for KY Workers’ Comp? Contact Us.
A Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer workers’ compensation lawyer will focus on your claim so you can focus on getting better. Don’t risk a mistake in your claim application that causes delays or leads to a denial of the workers’ comp benefits you need. Don’t take on the insurance company by yourself. Our workers’ compensation lawyers will work on your case as if you are a member of our family, and seek maximum benefits compensation for you.
Our seven offices are conveniently located across Kentucky. Together, we’ll fight to win all the benefits you are entitled to and show them what Kentucky Courage means. Contact us now to schedule your free consultation.