Changes in Kansas could fundamentally alter workers’ compensation

Kansas' new workers compensation law has drawn criticism.

Across the country, workers' compensation is undergoing radical change. Beginning in 2015, Kansas implemented a "medical guide" for workers' compensation claims. While the law is complex, the upshot of the new law is that injured workers may receive less for their injury than ever before.

The purpose of the law was to reduce insurance premiums for businesses, lowering their cost of paying for injured workers, and to increase the bottom line of insurance companies. But many are left wondering if the measure won't instead lead to personal injury lawsuits. With payouts that do not meet the needs of injured workers, Kansas courts may find current law regarding workers' compensation unconstitutional, allowing workers to bring personal injury lawsuits in lieu of obtaining workers compensation.

The argument is this: Constitutional protections ensure everyone has the right to have legal disputes settled by a trial, including injured workers who file a claim against their employer. However, courts have ruled that workers' compensation doesn't violate this right, because for a century workers have been compensated adequately for their injuries. That may no longer be the case. And courts in Kansas have historically warned that not fairly paying injured workers would mean workers' compensation could no longer be the exclusive remedy under which injured workers could become compensated.

Questions regarding the current constitutionality of Kansas' workers' compensation system are not idle speculation. Other states, including Florida and Oklahoma, have seen personal injury lawsuits allowed by courts after their own states gutted workers' compensation.

Help for injured workers

Injured workers deserve fair compensation after suffering an injury while on the job. Because the new regulations regarding workers' compensation are so new in the state, it remains to be seen how the system will play out, and whether injured workers will be able to file personal injury lawsuits in the future instead of workers' compensation claims.

Because of its current uncertainty, injured workers face more obstacles in obtaining compensation than ever before. If you have been injured at work and are looking for help with the cost of medical bills and lost wages, contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney to discuss your legal options. As it stands, injured workers must still use workers' compensation to pay for medical expenses and recover lost wages. However, navigating obtaining workers' compensation benefits is complex, and full compensation is increasingly difficult to obtain.

At the Law Offices of Ankerholz and Smith, our attorneys are experienced in helping injured workers obtain the compensation they deserve. In a system that can be stacked against workers, it pays to have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney at your side. Contact our office to discuss your current status and legal options. Time limitations apply, so do not delay.