Episode 8: Murray, Kentucky personal injury attorney Jeff Roberts discusses workers’ compensation related to injuries as businesses reopen or startup. He’s has been working on workers’ compensation claims for years and earned a state-wide reputation. Because of his reputation, he is asked to speak at conferences to lawyers about worker compensation claims and how you should deal with these cases.
It is exciting for new businesses to open up, especially if it is a big plant. This also means that there are new policies and training that will be taking place. When workers come in and do tasks that they are unfamiliar with, it can lead to injuries.
The space they are working in also comes into play. The workers may not have the proper space needed to lift an item correctly. If a worker does not know how to properly lift an item, later on it can cause wear and tear on their bodies. Back and neck injuries are very common in workers’ compensation claims. This is very common in workers that may stock heavy items. In our everyday life, we don’t lift 20-30 lbs. over our heads for hours, so over a long period of time your body will get worn out.
Look for Signs of Injury
If you notice that something doesn’t feel right, maybe you felt a strange pop or even a tear, you need to report it to your employer immediately. A lot of times you may just think that you tweaked something, or it isn’t a big deal and it’s just sore, but sometimes it ends up being a herniated disc or a torn rotator cuff. For those returning to work, maybe you’ve been off for a while and it’ll take getting used to old movements or to regain flexibility and strength. This is a common reason workers experience injuries as businesses reopen.
Under Kentucky law, you are required to report it as soon as it’s practical after sustaining a work injury. There have been employers who tell their employees that they hadn’t reported it in 24-hours, so you can’t pursue a workers’ compensation claim. That is not the law at all. It doesn’t mean you have to give notice immediately, but the best thing to do is to do it as soon as possible.
The company may have a policy, but it is important to know that there is a law already set in place that overrides the policy they may have. This is why it is important to reach out to an attorney to get another opinion.
You Can Select Your Own Doctor
Sometimes the company will want you to go see a specific doctor. In Kentucky, the employer cannot tell you what doctor to go see. Kentucky does allow a workers’ compensation insurance company to have a managed care plan for workplace injuries. If they have a managed care plan you do have to stay with a doctor within that plan, but you still get to choose which doctor within the plan that you want to go to.
Even if you have to travel to see a specialist that mileage is covered by workers’ compensation. The reimbursement can be significant, especially if you travel there often. This is another reason why it is important to contact an attorney as soon as you can, so they can work on getting that money back for you.
Don’t Let Them Play Games with Your Injury
If your employer threatens you because of the amount of time you are off, your attorney can step in if your doctor has you off of work. Some insurance companies will start to send nurses to your doctor’s appointments and that nurse will talk to the doctor about when you can go back and what restrictions you may have.
Kentucky Workers’ Comp Benefits
Workers compensation has a system of benefits set up, so you can take time off when you’re injured. The first two benefits you’ll run into are medical because you will always see a doctor before you are off of work. The medical benefits under workers’ compensation is that there are no co-pays and no deductibles. You should not have to pay anything out of pocket for prescriptions or any medical treatment.
The second benefit is called temporary total disability (TTD), this is wage-loss benefits. If you are out of work, they will pay you 66 and 2/3% of your average weekly wage. You will have to be off of work for 7 days to become eligible for TTD.
OSHA Violations and KY Workers’ Compensation
In Kentucky, OSHA is responsible for safety in the workplace. They set certain safety requirements in facilities and for different types of industries. The facilities are supposed to know them and comply to them, but unfortunately, they don’t always do that, which can result in very serious injuries. Violations might include removing a guard from a machine or moving machinery in an improper matter.
If they violate an OSHA standard, then it can affect what an injured worker can receive. It may increase what they receive under the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Act because there is a penalty to the employer if they violate the OSHA standards. This also can be turned around, so if a worker violates the OSHA standards, they can get penalized, as well. OSHA can investigate the situation as well, but they usually will only come if the injury is extremely severe or if there is a fatality.
Third Party Injuries
If you are injured on the job, then you probably have a workers’ compensation claim. If your injury on the job is caused by a co-worker or caused by your employer doing something wrong, then the workers’ compensation claim is all you have. If the injury is caused by a vendor on the property the situation changes. For instance, if the vendor/contractor was moving something with a forklift and they hit you, then you could have a claim against that person driving the forklift and the company they work for. You would still have the workers’ compensation claim, but you would also have the claim against them (the third party). That would open up other damages that you could recover, such as pain and suffering, which you cannot recover in a workers’ compensation claim.
Don’t Put off Getting the Medical Care You Need
Most people are scared to get help. You are scared your employer will get mad, but injuries as businesses reopen can happen, and they know that. Most employers want you to get properly treated, so you can get back to work. It is very rare to see retaliation from an employer. Just by talking to an attorney over the phone, you will learn what you can do and choose if you want to pursue it or not. It never hurts just to talk and get information from an attorney, so you know your rights better and what you can possibly recover.
For more information, visit www.JeffRobertsLaw.com. This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice. Jeff’s principal office is located at 509 Main Street, Murray, Kentucky. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson. This is an advertisement.