Workers' Compensation Attorney in Wichita, Kansas
Injuries are an unfortunate part of the workplace. In 2021, a total of 24,700 non-fatal workplace injuries were reported in Kansas. Getting proper protection through workers’ compensation is essential. However, navigating the waters of a workers’ compensation claim can quickly become complex.
At Hess Law LLC, I focus my practice on providing skilled and compassionate workers’ compensation counsel in Wichita, Kansas. I am proud to put my more than three decades of experience at the service of the people throughout Sedgwick County and all of Kansas.
Overview of Workers’ Compensation in Kansas
Workers' compensation in Kansas is a system that provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their work. The Kansas Workers Compensation Act requires most employers to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees. The program is designed to provide medical treatment, wage replacement, and other benefits to employees who are injured at work.
A common question I get is “Which employees are covered under workers’ compensation?” Keep in mind that in Kansas, most employees are covered by workers' compensation insurance, including both full-time and part-time employees. Workers’ compensation covers most employers, with a total gross annual payroll for all employees in excess of $20,000 annually.
In Kansas, workers' compensation covers:
Employees working for private companies, including corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships
State and local government employees are covered by workers' compensation insurance
Domestic workers, such as nannies and housekeepers, if their employer has a total gross annual pay roll for all employees in excess of $20,000 annually.
It is important to note that some employees, such as federal workers, railroad workers and longshoremen, are covered by federal workers' compensation laws and not by Kansas state law. Also note that workers' compensation does not generally cover injuries occurring outside of work or during off-duty activities.
The following injuries are generally covered under workers’ compensation in our state:
Traumatic injuries include those resulting from accidents, such as falls, cuts, fractures, and burns, and those resulting from a single event, such as being hit by a falling object or being involved in a car accident while on the job
Repetitive motion injuries refer to injuries resulting from repetitive actions or motions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and other musculoskeletal disorders
Occupational illnesses include those caused by exposure to harmful substances or conditions in the workplace, such as asbestos-related illnesses, hearing loss, and respiratory diseases
Mental health conditions are those caused by work-related stress, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Kansas
In general, employees in a workers' compensation claim need to prove that they suffered an injury or illness that was caused by their job-related duties or working conditions. In addition, employees must prove the following:
Establish that they were an employee at the time of the injury or illness
Demonstrate that their injury or illness occurred while performing their job-related duties or while on the employer's premises. This situation could include injuries sustained while traveling for work, attending a work-related event, or performing a task at the direction of the employer
Establish that their injury or illness resulted from job-related duties or working conditions. This situation could include physical injuries caused by repetitive motions, exposure to hazardous chemicals or substances, or psychological injuries resulting from stress or trauma at work
Report the injury or illness to the employer timely. The time limit to provide notice depends on the type of accident and injury and if the employee is still an employee. The shortest time period is 10 days.
Failure to report the injury within the required timeframe may result in a loss of benefits.
Employees need to keep detailed records of any medical treatment they receive. Documentation includes medical records, bills, and receipts related to injury or illness. Employees must also follow the prescribed medical treatment and attend all scheduled appointments to support the claim.
Benefits Available Through a Kansas Workers’ Compensation Claim
Another common question I am asked is “What benefits are available through workers’ compensation?” The following are possible benefits through a claim:
Medical benefits include coverage for medical expenses such as doctor visits, hospitalization, physical therapy, surgery and medication.
Temporary total disability benefits provide wage replacement to injured workers temporarily unable to work. The benefit's amount is two thirds of the employee's average gross weekly wage subject to a statutory maximum.
Permanent partial disability benefits provide compensation for the nature and extent of injury and in some cases wage replacement to injured workers with a permanent partial disability. The benefit’s amount is generally based on the severity of the disability and the employee's average weekly wage.
Permanent total disability benefits provide wage replacement to injured workers with are permanently and totally disabled. The current statutory benefit amount is $155,000.
Death benefits provide support to the dependents of an employee who dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness. The benefit’s amount is generally based on the employee's average weekly wage and the current statutory maximum is $300,000.
Appealing a Workers’ Compensation Decision
Employees dissatisfied with a workers’ compensation decision in Kansas have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process generally involves the following steps:
An informal conference with the Kansas Workers’ Compensation Division could take place to discuss the decision.
Mediation may be available to solve the case without going to court.
A hearing may take place if an agreement cannot be reached through mediation.
When both sides are dissatisfied with the appeal decision, the case can go to the Appeals Board.
The last step is for the Kansas Court of Appeals to review the previous decision and issue a written decision.
Each step of the appeals process has strict time limits. Failing to meet these time limits can result in the loss of the right to appeal.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Wichita, Kansas
Don’t navigate the workers compensation system on your own. At Hess Law LLC, I am ready to go to fight for my clients and help them uphold their right to fair compensation after a workplace injury. Set up a consultation with me today to get started.