Slape & Howard
Understanding the Kansas Workers Compensation Act
Under Kansas workers compensation law, employees who suffer work-related injuries or are injured on the job are entitled to pursue compensation for their medical costs and other expenses. However, it’s important to note that the state's workers compensation laws are overly complicated. They have strict time limits, strict cutoffs on the amount of compensation you can receive, and (worst of all) those limitations have only become more restricted over time.
If you are an injured worker in Kansas, it’s vital that you act quickly if you hope to successfully claim financial compensation for your workplace accident. While this article aims to give you some of the most basic need-to-know information about filing a workers compensation in Kansas, the first and best piece of advice we can give is simply this: Get in contact with an experienced workers compensation lawyer immediately. Waiting to do so could put your claim at risk.
An Overview of the Kansas Workers Compensation Act
The Kansas Workers Compensation Act covers almost all work-related accidents and occupational diseases, including carpal tunnel syndrome. However, your employers’ insurance provider may deny coverage for your injuries on the grounds of:
- Intentional self-infliction
- Deliberate failure to protect yourself against the injury
- Your voluntary participation in horseplay or fighting
- Careless violation of your employer's workplace safety rules
Since the so-called “upgrades” to the Kansas Workers Compensation Act in 2011, there are even more reasons a claim can be denied. Notably, you only have 20 days to file your claim, and you cannot extend this deadline on “good faith” or because of any extenuating circumstances. We once had a client who had to wait 21 days to hear back from his doctor. Even though the diagnosis very clearly demonstrated a legitimate workplace injury, he could no longer claim compensation for it because the 20-day window had passed.
The moral of the story: You do not want to wait to file your claim and you do not want to risk filing your claim incorrectly. Your best chance of recovering compensation is enlisting the help of an experienced law firm as soon as possible following your accident. With an experienced workers compensation attorney on your side, you can drastically increase your chances of navigating the workers claim process while taking the most recent changes to the law into consideration.
What Benefits Are Injured Employees Entitled To?
In the event that you win your workers compensation case, your employer’s insurance will have to pay for all the medical costs reasonably required to relieve the impact of the injury. If you choose an outside physician, your employer will only have to pay a maximum of $500 for your medical treatments. Unfortunately, this can only cover two appointments at most.
Furthermore, you are entitled to 66% or two-thirds of your average weekly benefits but not to exceed the statutory maximum weekly benefits of $731.00 for 2021-2022. Also, you may receive up to a maximum of:
- $75,000 in permanent partial disability benefits for most injuries not resulting in a wage loss;
- $130,000 in work disability benefits for certain injuries that resulted in a wage loss of at least 10%;
- $155,000 in permanent total disability benefits if you are uneable to work again.
Rememeber, it is imperative not to voluntarily resign your position or get terminated from your position for cause while you have a work injury. If the employer has a defensible reason to release from your employment, or you resign, you may be limiting the ability of the court to grant you compensation for damages due to wage loss. This is a very complicated issue, and we highly reccomend talking to an attorney before making any empoloyment decisions while you are hurt.
Employees who agree on a settlement with their employer may choose to receive the claim's value as a lump sum or as a srunning award, which accounts for weekly payments that will ultimately total the award. Regardless of the settlement method agreed upon, employers will only be responsible for future payments if the claim is left open for either future medical benefits, future modification, or both.
Remember: The Kansas Workers Compensation Act Is Not Your Friend
Injuries on the job can be very expensive. Medical costs and lost wages can have a huge impact on your financial and emotional health. The Kansas Workers Compensation Act has made Kansas workers compensation law overly complicated. Limits on compensation for both medical treatment and lost wages could leave you without any recourse. If you were injured in a work-related accident, you need a lawyer who both understands the ins and outs of Kansas’s ever-changing workers compensation laws and knows how to apply that knowledge to your unique case.
Contact Your Local Workers Compensation Law Firm
Our Wichita-based law firm, Slape & Howard, is one of many Kansas law firms united in the belief that Kansas workers compensation laws need a hard refresh. If you have been injured in a workplace accident and need guidance through the claims process, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
The longer you delay in filing your claim or getting in contact with an attorney, the greater the chances that your claim will be denied or tossed out altogether. So even if you don’t call us, be sure to reach out to your local workers compensation law firm. The important thing is to get the legal guidance and support you need when you need it most.