When looking for a lawyer, it is important to find someone who stays on top of changes to the law. We pride ourselves on staying on top of changes so that we can represent you more effectively.
New Workers’ Compensation Changes
In 2018, the Kentucky Legislature changed the Workers’ Compensation Act (“the Act”). Several important changes could impact the benefits our clients could receive under the Act.
Change 1: No more lifetime medical benefits, unless you are permanently disabled (can’t work) or request an extension.
One of the most significant changes is the change to lifetime medicals.
Under the old law, an injured worker could receive lifetime medical benefits.
The law now caps an injured workers’ future medical benefits at 15 years. However, there are two (2) important exceptions:
First, injured workers who are found to be incapable of doing any type of work (permanently disabled) still get lifetime medical benefits.
Second, injured workers can request an extension in medical benefits, if they file a motion to extend medical benefits with the Department of Workers’ Compensation six months before the 15 year period expires.
Change 2: Older workers get better benefits than before.
Under the old law, an injured worker could only receive income benefits until normal Social Security retirement age ( 65 ) or for a period of two (2) years, whichever is longer. However, Kentucky’s Supreme Court found this to be unconstitutional.
In response, the Legislature changed the law to provide income benefits until an injured worker reaches the age of seventy (70) or for a period of four (4) years, whichever is longer.
Even though the law has changed to grant older workers’ more income benefits, not all insurance companies and adjusters are aware of this change.
Change 3 – Employers can request blood tests to check for substance use.
A third change to the Act is that now employers can request injured workers to submit to blood tests to determine if the worker was impaired at the time they were injured.
If the blood test is positive for an illegal substance (or shows levels of a legal substance that are likely to cause impairment), then it is presumed the injured worker was voluntarily impaired and is not entitled to receive income or medical benefits for the work injury.
However, the injured worker can present evidence that they weren’t impaired, or that if they were impaired, that the impairment didn’t cause the injury. If the worker is successful, they can be granted benefits even though the blood test was positive.
While there were other changes made, the changes highlighted above stand to have a greater impact on an injured workers’ benefits.
Again, when choosing an attorney to represent you in a workers’ compensation claim it is important to have counsel who is up-to-date in in the changes of the law. Failing to do so could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in benefits.
If you should have any questions, call Brad Sowell or Mike Steidl at (270) 599-0642. Remember, our consultations are free.