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Kentucky's workers' compensation system set to change

Kentucky is planning major changes to its workers' compensation system for the first time in decades -- but workers may not appreciate some of the new measures once they're in place.

In fact, the changes that have been approved are supported primarily by employers because they cut insurance costs. Labor groups tried to oppose them, saying that some of the "improvements" aren't really beneficial to workers at all. Opponents have even called the new plan "ant-worker" in nature.

In particular, they're opposed to the benefit cap that would affect workers who filed permanent-partial disability claims after serious work injuries. Under the current system, those with permanent-partial injuries are entitled for medical care related to their injuries for as long as they need it. That's important, since some injuries can turn into chronic, painful problems even when injury victims are able to return to work.

Under the new rules, those on permanent-partial disability would be limited to medical care for their injury-related conditions for only 15 years. However, there is a possibility of "recertification" to receive medical benefits after the 15-year time limit is up.

Legislators say that the measures are needed if the state wants to remain competitive as it seeks to lure more businesses to the area. Opponents say that's just an excuse -- workers' comp premiums have already been steadily decreasing over the years anyhow. They say that the new rules essentially help companies cut their long-term costs by sacrificing the needs of employees.

If you're already receiving workers' comp due to an injury, the changes will not affect you -- even if you're relying on those long-term medical benefits for ongoing problems. The new rules will only apply to cases decided after the measures are in place.

Anyone who is injured in a workplace accident is well-advised to examine all their legal options for damage recovery. It's important to hold employers accountable for unsafe working conditions in order to encourage improvements and prevent more injuries in the future.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Kentucky to Move Ahead With Overhaul of Workers’ Comp System," May 09, 2018

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