The Kansas system of workers' compensation is compulsory, meaning that employers are required to provide workers' compensation insurance to their employees. Workers' compensation insurance may be provided through private insurance carriers or self-insurance. Waivers may be permitted to exclude certain employees from coverage, including corporate officers. Sole proprietors may elect to be covered..
Exemptions from coverage may apply to certain employees, including employees of very small employers and agricultural workers.
Medical Benefits are provided to employees entitled to workers' compensation benefits, subject to limits on physical therapy.
The employer makes the initial choice of treating physician. The employee may change physicians with the permission of the employer or workers' compensation insurance company, or by order of an administrative law judge. The employee can utilize a modest allowance for seeking outside care. The employer may request second opinions up to two times per month.
Indemnity benefits are payable to injured workers to help make up for lost income. There is a waiting period of 7 days before a worker is eligible for indemnity benefits, but if the worker's disability lasts more than 21 days indemnity benefits become retroactive to the date of the injury.
Benefits available to injured workers include the following:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid to workers who are unable to work due to injury, but who are expected to make full or partial recovery such that they may return to work. Benefits are based upon 2/3 of the worker's average pre-injury weekly wage, subject to a cap, and continue for up to 415 weeks, depending on the nature of the injury.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
When a worker is not expected to recover from a total disability caused by a work-related injury, and as a result suffers a total loss of earning capacity, the worker becomes eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. In Kansas PTD benefits are calculated based upon 2/3 of the injured worker's average weekly wage, subject to a cap, and may continue indefinitely subject to a cap on total benefits. Offsets may apply for Social Security retirement benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Once an injured worker has recovered to the maximum possible extent, the worker may be able to return to employment but nonetheless remain partially disabled, and may potentially qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. In Kansas PPD benefits are determined based on a statutory schedule. Benefits for unscheduled injuries are determined based upon the worker's average actual wage losses and task loss, and are payable for a maximum of 415 weeks. Benefits are calculated based upon 2/3 of the worker's pre-injury average weekly, subject to a cap.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
When a worker suffers an injury that limits his ability to return to work, resulting in a reduction of income as a result of reduced hours or wages, the injured worker may be eligible to receive a benefit based on the difference between the worker's pre-injury earnings and their reduced, post-injury earnings. In Kansas, TPD benefits are paid based upon 2/3 of the difference between the injured worker's pre-injury and post-injury wage, subject to a cap. Benefits may be payable for up to 415 weeks.
For some, more serious injuries, workers' compensation indemnity benefits may be paid according to a statutory schedule, instead of following the standard model of the weekly benefit based on the duration of the disability. Scheduled injuries include such injuries as the amputation of an arm, the loss of a dominant hand, the loss of a leg, the loss of a foot, the loss of an eye, or loss of hearing in an ear.
Coverage may be available for cumulative trauma, mental stress and occupational hearing loss.
When a worker dies as the result of a work-related injury, workers' compensation pays additional benefits, including a burial allowance, and benefits for a surviving spouse and dependents. Survivor benefits are calculated based on 2/3 of the worker's average weekly wage, subject to a cap in amount. Benefits may continue for minors until the age of 18, the age of 23 if the dependent is a student or is disabled. Spousal benefits end upon remarriage.
Attorney fees are limited by statute to 25% of the amount of compensation recovered and paid. Fees are subject to review by an administrative law judge with the Department of Labor, Division of Workers Compensation.
This article provides a quick overview of the benefits available to injured workers, but the full formulas used for assessment of benefits, coordination of different types of benefits, and assessment of injuries and disability ratings can quickly complicate the determination of benefits. Also, states frequently revise their workers' compensation laws. Most workers who suffer a significant injury or wage loss as the result of a workplace injury will benefit from consulting a workers' compensation lawyer.
The state agency responsible for workers' compensation is:
Kansas Department of Labor
Division of Workers' Compensation
401 SW Topeka Blvd, Suite 2
Topeka, KS 66603-3105
(785) 296-4000 or (800) 332-0353