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A great question that is hard to answer. If you think it is really simple, and attorneys say it is hard only to justify charging a fee, go to this website at the Department of Workers Claims to learn the value of a claim for permanent disability:

You have to enter several numbers to get the benefit amount, such as date of the injury, employee’s birth date, employee’s average weekly wage, employee’s impairment rating, and employee’s education level. The web page will tell you the permanent disability benefit the employee is entitled to receive, unless they are approaching retirement age. You also select one of three options about the employee’s ability to work at their old job. The web page does not discuss total disability or several other benefits that an employee injured in Kentucky is entitled to receive.

Other benefits include temporary total disability benefits, medical expenses, travel expenses, right to reopen, past due interest on unpaid benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and a discount if the benefits are paid in a lump sum. Many times the value of these other benefits exceeds the value of the permanent disability amount. You have to determine the likely amount an employee can receive for all these benefits, not just permanent disability, to determine the true value of a Kentucky workers compensation claim. There is no formula to determine these amounts. It is more of an art than science. Every case has different facts that change the numbers. Putting a value on these benefits requires experience with the Kentucky workers compensation system.

Also, even the numbers used in the formula to determine permanent disability benefits can vary widely, and need to be closely examined. Particular attention should always be given to impairment ratings assigned by doctors hired by a workers compensation insurance carrier to perform an independent medical examination. In each claim there always seems to be an argument about the right impairment rating, and it can have a huge impact on the amount of benefits. But, the ratings are not always easily determined. Doctors interpret test results differently, resulting in huge differences in ratings. Also, occasionally doctors do not properly use the guidelines to determine the rating, resulting in the wrong number. Always review any impairment rating for accuracy and potential bias of the doctor that computed it.

Arguments also pop up about average weekly wage, the ability to return to work, and every other factor used in the formula. Once, I was involved in a claim where we could not even agree on the age of an employee. That claimant was born outside of the United States, spoke no English, and a friend who filled out his employment application used the wrong date of birth. Because all of those numbers used in the formula to determine benefits influence the amount of money an injured employee can receive there can be a dispute about them. There are numerous appellate court case decisions that discuss how the numbers are to be determined, and those should be considered when trying to estimate the value of a Kentucky workers compensation claim.

So, the question about what a Kentucky workers compensation claim is worth is complicated for two big reasons. First, there are other benefits an employee can receive besides money for permanent disability. Second, different numbers can be used in the formula to determine benefits, which can result in big differences in the benefit amount.

You need to have a fair amount of knowledge about the Kentucky workers compensation system to make a good evaluation of the value of any claim. If you just use the web page listed above to determine the value of your claim, there is a good chance you missed something. Most attorneys who handle workers compensation claims have this knowledge and work on a contingency fee basis. They are usually happy to meet you at no charge to evaluate your Kentucky workers compensation claim, as I am.

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