I recently attended a legal seminar that discussed the 2018 changes to the Kentucky workers’ compensation law. The changes that impact injured workers the most are summarized below:
IMPORTANT 2018 CHANGES TO KENTUCKY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAWS
(Changes become effective 7/14/2018)
Medical Treatment – 15 Year Limit
- You only get treatment for 15 years without further action
- You have to apply for continued medical treatment within 15 years from date of injury
- You must apply 75 days before expiration of 15 years and it must be approved by ALJ
Urine Drug Screens
What the workers’ compensation carrier has to pay for is limited by the patient’s risk:
- Low risk – One test a year
- Moderate risk- Two tests a year
- High risk – Four tests a year
- Aberrant behavior – each visit
- The Department of Workers’ Claims will implement treatment guidelines for medical treatment and prescriptions. It will be difficult to get treatment outside of the new guidelines
- The patient or their attorney will get a free copy of medical records if requested.
Income Benefits ($)
- The amount of Temporary Total Disability benefits (TTD) is raised to 110% of the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW), so high wage earners will get more while off work
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) is raised to 82.5% of State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW), so higher wage earners will get more money for permanent injuries
- All monetary benefits will be cut off at age 70 or within four years from date of injury, whichever is later. This is RETROACTIVE (probably unconstitutional for retroactive claims)
- Spouses or dependents eligible for benefits are cut off at 70: or 4 years later. This is RETROACTIVE (and probably unconstitutional for retroactive claims)
- Will now have TEMPORARY PARTIAL DISABILITY (TPD), so if you go back to work part time you can still get benefits
Interest on Past Due Benefits
- If the Employee causes a delay in the delivery of benefits he/she will not be entitled to interest on past due benefits.
- You now must reopen a claim within four years of the date of the original award or settlement.
Cumulative Trauma (i.e., Carpal Tunnel)
- The Employee has two years from the date a doctor tells him/her that the cumulative trauma is work related to file a claim
Discount Rate for Lump Sum Settlements
- Lump sum settlements which are less than $40 in weekly benefits are subject to a lower interest rate discount, which means the employee with get less money.
- Raised and will now be:
20% of first $25,000
15% of next $25,000
10% of remainder up to max of $18,000
- Denial of benefits because of intoxication has to be established by a blood test.
- If an employee voluntarily introduced an illegal substance into their system, there is a presumption the injury is not work related
- Liability now falls on the last employer where worker was exposed to the hazard
- Drivers are independent contractors and not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits
There are other changes, a lot of which impact insurance carriers and coal miners, which are not discussed here