What If My Employer Doesn’t Have Insurance?
The Kansas Workers Compensation Act (KWCA) of 2011 made drastic changes to how employees can receive compensation for medical expenses and lost wages due to injuries and illnesses sustained at work. The KWCA established new filing hurdles and seemed to favor employers and their insurance providers against employees injured or ill because of workplace conditions or accidents.
Though almost all employers in Kansas are required to either carry workers compensation insurance coverage or to self-insure, there are cases when employers fail to live up to their obligations under the law. In that case, how does an employee recover benefits if injured or stricken with illness at work?
Here is where the state-managed Kansas Workers Compensation Fund, established in 1993, comes into focus. Originally, the fund was designed to incentivize employers to hire previously injured employees. After 1993 legislative changes, the fund is now utilized when an employer is uninsured for workers compensation and or is unable to pay for medical and disability payments for employees.
However, the process of recovering medical and other expenses related to workplace injuries and illnesses from the fund can be lengthy and challenging. In 2021, there were only 67 claims under the fund.
The workers compensation attorneys at Wichita-based Slape & Howard have been fighting for employee rights long before the implementation of the KWCA.
We are also knowledgeable and experienced in seeking compensation from the Workers Compensation Fund. If you have been injured or fallen ill at work because of accidents or conditions in the workplace, contact us immediately. We proudly serve clients throughout the state of Kansas.
Requirements for Workers
Compensation in Kansas
Kansas workers compensation laws require all employers with an annual payroll of $20,000 or more to provide workers compensation insurance for all employees, including family members, part- and full-time workers, and leased employees. Generally speaking, the only employment categories excluded from the requirement are:
Those in certain agricultural pursuits
Realtors who qualify as independent contractors
Firefighters belonging to a firefighters’ relief organization that has waived coverage
Sole proprietors, LLC members, and partners, but not their employees
Certain owner-operator vehicle drivers with their own occupational accident insurance
Employers have three options in providing workers compensation insurance: obtaining it through a licensed insurance agent, working with the Kansas Department of Insurance to join a group-funded pool or self-insuring with the consent of the Kansas Department of Insurance.
Recovery Options for Injured Employees
The workers compensation system, which dates back more than a century, is based on no-fault – neither the employer nor the employee can generally be held liable for something at work that results in injury or illness.
In other words, neither party, employee or employer, can sue the other. In some cases, an employer can be held responsible for deliberate, intentional acts that result in injury or illness, and in other cases, employees can be excluded from coverage if their injuries result from horseplay, intoxication, or other deliberate actions.
When a third-party supplier of machinery, products, or supplies – such as chemicals – causes the injury or illness, they can be held liable and sued under personal injury laws, but any recovery would be used to pay back workers compensation for all benefits provided.
The Kansas Workers Compensation Fund
Kansas maintains a backup for instances when an employer, for whatever reason, cannot meet its obligations for workers compensation coverage.
As mentioned, originally designed to incentivize employers to hire previously injured or even handicapped employees, the Kansas Workers Compensation Fund later became a back-up for employers who could not honor their workers compensation obligations for whatever reason.
The problem for the injured or ill employee is that their claim must go before an administrative law judge (ALJ), who might rule either for or against it. If the claimant does receive a favorable ruling, then the fund is in its right to seek compensation from the negligent employer.
Rely on Slape & Howard for Your
Workers Compensation Claims
Whether you’re filing a claim through your employer or the Workers Compensation Fund – or forced to seek an appeal of a ruling in either instance – contact the attorneys at Slape & Howard.
Though based in Wichita, we proudly fight for the rights of employees throughout the state. We can help you assemble the documents and medical evidence needed to justify the benefits you’re seeking. We won’t give up until every resource and avenue for recompense has been exhausted.