Episode 10: Louisville workers’ compensation attorney Scott Scheynost discusses how he can help if you have an out-of-state workers’ comp claim that involves a Kentucky-based employer. Kentucky’s comp benefits may be available to you, even if you weren’t injured in Kentucky. Join Scott to listen to this episode.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Vary by State
This area of law is not federal. Each state establishes its own laws and rules for workers’ compensation. You may find Kentucky’s benefits to be more generous than those of other states. The window during which you can file a claim varies by state. This refers to the statute of limitation. If you fail to file your claim within a specific timeframe, you may not be able to file for workers’ compensation benefits.
No this doesn’t involve the planets and starts. This legal concept can benefit people who may not actually work in Kentucky, but sustain work-related injuries. If you were hired in the state of Kentucky and your employer has a principal place of business here, you qualify for Kentucky workers’ compensation benefits. Sales reps, truck drivers, technicians and others commonly have Kentucky claims based on extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Your employer may try to encourage you, or force you, to file in the state in which the injury occurred. Often, it may be cheaper for the employer because that state’s benefits are more limited than Kentucky’s.
You should consult a Kentucky workers’ compensation attorney to determine if you qualify and what course of action would be most beneficial for you.
If You’ve Sustained a Permanent Impairment
If your injury results in a permanent impairment, you definitely need to figure out if you could file under Kentucky’s workers’ compensation system for out-of-state workers’ comp benefits. The type of benefits, their duration and other important factors, such as future medical treatment and vocational rehab, should be considered.
Should You See the Company Doctor?
You have the right to select your own doctor under Kentucky law. The company may try to encourage you to see a certain physician. That doctor may try to get you back to work more quickly that you should, in an effort to save the company expenses related to your injury. In medicine, there are subjective judgement calls. The company doctor could be influenced to document your injuries a certain way or to avoid expensive exams or assign a lower impairment rating, in an effort to maintain that referral relationship with your company.
In Indiana, for example, you are required to go to the company doctor. You’ll have to treat with that doctor. Again, that’s not the law in Kentucky.
It’s typically a good idea to begin with your primary care physician (i.e. your family doctor). That individual is focused on your full recovery and making sure you get the proper exams and medications necessary for your recovery.
While Scott handles workers’ compensation cases across Kentucky, he has actually helped clients who live and work outside of the country. Some cases involve Kentucky-based employers, others involve employees from other countries who were injured in Kentucky. In one instance, his client was from China, got injured in Kentucky and moved to New York.
Technology Makes It Easier to Handle Your Out-of-State Workers’ Comp Claim
The COVID pandemic actually forced the workers’ compensation system to embrace video conferencing (i.e. Zoom), which makes it easier for you to work with your attorney and for the process to proceed, remotely.
Scott’s had clients who have resolved their claims without having to come to Kentucky. Depositions and hearings can be done from your home, using video technology. Most of the medical records and documents can be sent electronically.
Note: You may still be required to see a Kentucky doctor for your impairment rating.
What Is a Deposition?
Many workers’ compensation claims are resolved without litigation. As you may have seen on TV, the lawyer representing the company (i.e. the defendant) has a right to interview you, under oath, about your injuries. This process is called a deposition. This is part of the discovery process.
Scott will be present with his client when this happens, or there via Zoom if it’s a video deposition. A court reporter will type out the full discussion and a transcript will be produced. It’s important that you are both truthful and detailed when it comes to your specific injuries. It’s a fairly informal process.
A Formal Hearing before the Judge
Assuming your claim wasn’t settled via negotiation and case is filed, there is often a formal hearing before the administrative law judge. Again, using technology, these hearings can take place via Zoom. This can actually make it easier on the injured person who will not have to travel to the hearing.
Scott prepares his client so he/she understands what to expect. Based on the current rules, these hearings are still done via video. There’s a possibility that process may revert to the former, pre-COVID, in-person hearings in the future.
Out-of-State Medical Treatment
For injured employees who live out-of-state, we may need to work with your local doctor to discuss how Kentucky assigns impairment ratings. This can be done differently according to the other state’s workers’ compensation system. There can also be payment issues, involving the Kentucky system, that may need to be resolved with that doctor. Scott can work with the doctor to help them to understand the Kentucky system.
The treating doctor will produce medical records and reports detailing the extent of your injuries and the treatment for them. Medical records are an extremely important evidence in handling your claim and/or case. Many medical offices are using electronic medical records, which can speed up the process for everyone involved. It can make your life much easier.
Does Your Injury Qualify for Kentucky Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Under the extraterritorial jurisdiction discussed earlier, there are a few scenarios that determine eligibility. In general, here are some of the basics:
- Are you working for a Kentucky employer?
- Were hired in Kentucky?
- Were you working for an out-of-state employer and injured while in Kentucky?
There are exceptions, but it’s worth exploring the possibility to determine if you qualify for out-of-state workers’ comp benefits.
Scott Scheynost has been in private practice for over 25 years. He’s seen a lot of different scenarios involving workplace injuries. Technology is helping him to better serve clients across Kentucky, throughout the United States and even internationally.
Contact Scott Scheynost at (502) 937-5287. This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice. Scott’s principal office is located at 7619 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY 40258. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson. This is an advertisement.