Many individuals head out to work every day here in Lexington and elsewhere throughout Kentucky, not anticipating they’ll get hurt, yet it happens. Even though this is the case doesn’t necessarily mean that they work in a known dangerous industry like logging, for example. Injuries can happen in almost any job.
Data published by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that over 38,000 private Kentucky employers filed non-fatal workplace injury claims in 2019. This number of claims places our state’s Total Recordable Cases (TRC) slightly higher than the national average of only 2.8 per 100 workers.
If you got hurt on the job, you may wonder if you should file a work injury claim and what benefits you could receive if you’re successful in doing so. Below, we’ll address which benefits are available to injured employees in Kentucky and the basic rules for determining if and how much in maximum compensation you can recover.
We will also discuss when to get an attorney involved in your case and attributes to look for when evaluating attorneys to handle your claim.
Factors That Determine if You’re Eligible to File a Kentucky Work Injury Claim
If you’ve been injured on the job in Lexington, KY, you may be curious about what benefits you’re entitled to. There are certain standards for determining whether you can secure compensation and how much, if so, as hinted at above. However, please note that the amount of money you may receive will depend on the following:
- Your medical condition
- Your ability to return to work
- How much you earned before your injury
- How state workers’ compensation laws apply to your claim
Your first step may be to determine if you’re able to file for workers’ compensation benefits. You may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits regardless of how the accident occurred. A work injury claim, on the other hand, may be your best option if the injury occurred due to the negligence of those who manage your workplace.
Classifications of Workplace Injury Disabilities
Kentucky’s workers’ compensation laws place injured employees into one of the three following disability benefits categories:
- Temporary total disability
- Permanent partial disability
- Permanent total disability
Injured workers’ classifications will determine how much in monthly benefits they’re eligible to receive.
Additionally, some employees with serious injuries that qualify them as disabled under Kentucky law may also be eligible to submit Social Security Disability claims and recover compensation that way. Just know that in 2021, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that our state could cut workers’ comp benefits if a recipient became eligible for Social Security ones.
Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Generally speaking, there are four types of benefits available to injured employees in Central Kentucky, including:
If a workers’ compensation insurer approves your claim, then your employer will cover all medical bills related to the impairment you suffered at work.
Benefits will continue if you have a permanent disability (or other significant injuries like amputation or hearing loss) until the payments run out. If you have a chronic partial disability, medical payments will stop after 780 weeks from the date of your injury. However, if you are approved for an extension, you may receive benefits for longer.
Wage Replacement Benefits
Disability benefits payments like these are intended to replace a portion of your lost wages while you cannot work due to you being hurt. The specific amount you can receive will depend on the assessment your own doctor makes of your condition.
If you depend on a Kentucky employee who dies from a work injury or occupational illness, you may be eligible to receive income benefits on their behalf. The amount and duration of those benefits will depend on what the deceased employee’s earnings were before the onset of their impairment or illness and the number and type of dependents they have.
Workers’ compensation will also pay a lump sum to the deceased employee’s estate if the death occurs within four years of them getting hurt. In addition, a surviving spouse and children may be entitled to a portion of unpaid permanent disability income benefits if an employee with a valid Lexington workers’ compensation claim dies before their payment eligibility and funds run out.
Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits
If your physical impairment or illness prevents you from returning to your previous job, vocational rehabilitation benefits can help you retrain for a new profession. Many coal workers suffering from black lung disease find themselves in this predicament. These benefits can cover the costs of tuition, books, and other education-related expenses.
Additional Benefits Injured Employees May Request
There are some other benefits that may be available to employees in addition to the four types above. Some examples include a stipend for hearing or vision loss, facial disfigurement, and loss of limbs.
In some cases, workers’ benefits may also be available for non-physical injuries such as mental health conditions (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder) caused by workplace events such as witnessing a traumatic event or being the victim of harassment or discrimination.
Your ability to recover these additional benefits is subject to approval. Workers’ compensation lawyers who can show that your condition is work-related may be able to help you recover these additional, much-needed benefits.
How Third-Party Liability Applies to Work Injury or Illness Cases
In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, you may also be able to pursue compensation from a third party. An employee can generally do this if they can show that their impairment was caused by someone other than their employer or a co-worker.
If you were injured in a car accident while on the job, for example, you could file a personal injury claim against the driver. Car accidents determined to have been caused by defective products while using the equipment correctly could warrant the injured employee filing a third-party liability claim against the defective product’s manufacturer.
Another instance in which the filing of a third-party claim may be appropriate is if a piece of machinery malfunctions, causing injuries. The injured employee may be entitled to file a personal injury claim against the equipment’s manufacturer if this happens.
Benefits Third-Party Employee Claimants May Be Eligible for in Kentucky
Third-party liability claims are not subject to the same rules and limitations as work injury claims. For example, you can recover pain and suffering or mental anguish damages in a third-party liability claim, while these damages are not available by filing a workers’ one. As such, it’s essential to speak with an attorney to determine whether you have a valid third-party liability claim in addition to your workers’ compensation or if you should file one instead of the other.
You heard that right; pursuing workers’ comp and personal injury cases simultaneously is possible. However, many employees may not know they can file both personal injury and workers’ claims when dealing with workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation protects the employer from damages and only provides up to 66% of the benefits discussed earlier, but seeking a third-party liability claim can drastically improve coverage. However, you need to be aware that by seeking workers’ compensation and a third-party claim, the compensation carrier has the right to subrogation, which is reimbursement for duplicate damages like medical expenses or lost wages paid out. Fortunately, attorneys’ fees can offset some of this cost.
Statute of Limitations for Kentucky Workplace Accident Cases
According to Kentucky injury law, most cases must be filed within two years of the Lexington, Kentucky accident or three years from the date you learned or should have known about the work-related injuries.
However, there are some exceptions, so you need to speak with a work injury attorney in Fayette County after your accident to ensure that your claim is filed within the appropriate deadline. If you have any questions about the statute of limitations or any other aspect of your workers’ compensation claim, don’t hesitate to contact a Kentucky work injury lawyer here at Peterson Law Office.
As a state-mandated program, the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims oversees the different rules and regulations governing the workers’ comp claims process. An experienced attorney with extensive expertise in practice areas like these at Peterson Law Office can help you understand your rights and options concerning workers’ comp or personal injury claims, as well as the overall legal process that may allow you to recover full benefits.
What To Expect by Establishing an Attorney Client Relationship
Although workers’ compensation provides certain financial protections for employees who suffer workplace injuries, many different rules and limitations apply to specific injury claims made in Kentucky. As mentioned above, it may be possible to file a claim against another party as well. If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s vital to seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
The longer you wait to begin preparing your case is more time the insurance company will have to build a defense against your claim. This also means the more likely your case could be thrown out.
During your initial consultation with the attorney you meet with, you can expect to delve a bit deeper into your legal issues. The personal injury attorney may explain your rights and legal options before guiding you through every step of the process. As part of this, a work injury lawyer will:
- Analyze your case to determine if you have a claim
- Calculate the value of your claim
- File all necessary paperwork at every step
- Gather convincing evidence to support your claim
- Handle all communication with the insurance company
- File the necessary paperwork with the state agency in charge of workers’ compensation
- Represent you at all hearings or mediation sessions
If you have any questions about your claim or the benefits you may be entitled to receive, don’t hesitate to contact one of our work injury lawyers in Lexington, KY. The legal team and our attorney at our personal injury law firm, Peterson Law Office, are standing by to help. All we have to do is establish an attorney client relationship, and we can get to work for you in your work-related injury case.
The workers’ comp system is designed to provide specific financial benefits, but it can be complex and discouraging for those unsure how to navigate it. As a result, workers are often left feeling like they have nowhere to turn when injured on the job.
Attorneys who regularly handle these cases can be valuable allies, providing the injured worker with knowledgeable support and quality representation throughout the process. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a workplace accident, the last thing you should worry about is whether or not you can get the fair compensation you’re owed
Contact the legal team at our Lexington office today. Peterson Law Office will schedule your free consultation to discuss details beyond what we’ve provided here for general information purposes. At our meeting, we’ll give you a better feel for the exact steps we plan to take to ensure we perform a wonderful job on your behalf.