Workers’ Compensation in Kentucky: A Summary
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on January 26, 2021
Construction, hospitality, or office worker–a life-altering accident can happen in any workplace. Whether you’re a new job seeker or have worked at the same company for thirty years, it’s important to be aware of your rights under current Kentucky workers’ compensation law. This begins with the Workers’ Compensation Act, which asserts that all employers must provide optional workers’ compensation insurance. Furthermore, employers must ‘conspicuously post’ a Workers’ Compensation Notice. This means that the insurance carrier, type of policy, and policy number should be easily accessible to employees.
Of course, there are a few exceptions, as detailed by the Kentucky Department of Labor. Some farm-workers, short-term home maintenance workers, “domestic servants”, certain religious sects, and those protected by federal law (such as railroad/maritime workers) are exempt of coverage. You can also opt out of workers’ comp insurance, as an employee, by filing “Employee’s Notice of Rejection of Workers’ Compensation Act”, aka a Form 4 Waiver. You must file this waiver with your employer and the Department of Workers’ Claims. It is valid until you voluntarily withdraw it.
How do we define the bounds of a work-related injury?
KRS 342.0011 states “Injury means any work-related traumatic event or series of events, including cumulative trauma, arising out of and in the course of employment which is the proximate cause producing a harmful change in the human organism evidenced by objective medical findings…injury does not include the effects of the natural aging process and does not include communicable diseases unless the risk of contracting the disease is increased by the nature of the employment.”
Clearly, the specifics are complex. Injuries incurred while performing your job count, but not those resulting from onsite horseplay, self-infliction, intoxication, or travelling to-or-from work. The law does not consider psychological damage an injury unless it is a direct result of physical harm. Long-term illness developed from working in a job and “occupational diseases” such as black lung do count as an injury. You can find more information on what constitutes an injury in the Department of Workers’ Claims Guidebook. In full, injuries naturally vary on a case-to-case basis, causing disputes to often arise.
Want to sue your employer? It’s not that simple. Kentucky’s workers’ compensation provides a unique trade-off. Since workers’ compensation is an “exclusive remedy” for injured workers, employees surrender their right to sue employers in civil court when injured in the workplace.
Fortunately, you can hire the experienced lawyers at Cooper and Friedman PLLC to dispute the amount of your claim. Most cases are settled before they reach court, by the parties agreeing to a compromise settlement. You can apply for adjustment of the claim with the Department of Workers’ Claims if there is no settlement. The case is then assigned to an Administrative Law Judge, and a conference is scheduled to begin the process.
What do workers’ compensation benefits include?
According to the Department of Workers’ Claims Guidebook, compensation benefits can include partial wage replacement, payment of medical treatment and restoring the injured worker to suitable employment. Again, this varies entirely based on the specifics of the injuries sustained. If you think your compensation benefits are too low, or someone handled your case wrongfully, you can pursue legal action.
This is a summary of the law, but is not a substitute for professional legal counsel or advice. If you have a workers’ compensation claim that you wish to pursue please feel free to contact the attorneys at Cooper & Friedman.
The experienced attorneys at Cooper & Friedman PLLC provide people throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana with experienced workers’ compensation representation. Our workers compensation lawyers have years of experience successfully handling workers’ compensation matters and will be able to explain to you all of your rights under relevant laws. For additional information or to schedule your free case consultation with a worker’s comp attorney, call: 502-459-7555 now.