Construction is a dangerous industry in which to work, hands down. According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 18 people died in construction-related accidents in Kentucky in 2013. In 2012, there were 800 incidences of non-fatal illnesses or injuries reported in the Kentucky construction industry.
Not only do these individuals and their loved ones have to deal with pain, suffering and a new way of life, they also have to deal with the headache of figuring out how to pay for the medical expenses, loss of wages and other expenses related to the injury. Many of these individuals end up dealing with the workers’ compensation system.
Kentucky Construction Employers Have a Duty to Maintain a Safe Workplace
All Kentucky employers have a duty to maintain a safe work environment. Given the inherent dangers associated with the construction industry, that duty is paramount in the construction environment.
In addition to maintaining a safe working environment, construction employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect their employees in the event of workplace illness or injury. Workers’ compensation benefits are there to cover:
- Partial wages
- Medical expenses
- Re-training for injured workers unable to return to prior duties
- Burial expenses in the case of workplace fatalities
The Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Process
In order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits in Kentucky, you must show that you have an injury or illness that occurred due to the conditions of your employment. If you are injured, you must report the injury to your employer immediately. If you discover that you are suffering from a work-related disease or illness, you must report this as soon as you discover the illness.
Your employer will provide you with the necessary forms for your workers’ compensation claim. These forms must be filled out and notarized prior to submission.
You should also submit a medical report from your doctor discussing your injury or illness and how it is related to your work.
You will receive notification as to whether your claim was accepted or denied. If your claim is denied, you have the opportunity to appeal, but you must do so in a timely manner. Your appeal will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who will issue a written decision. If the ALJ denies your appeal, you may further appeal that decision through the Kentucky court system.
Legal Remedies Outside of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Unlike many other states, employees in Kentucky may waive their workers’ compensation benefits in order to sue their employer for their injuries or illnesses. There are some benefits to this tactic, because in a lawsuit, you have more options for compensation than you do with workers’ compensation benefits. To follow this route, the employee must fill out a Form 4 Waiver and submit it to their employer, who then must submit the form to the Department of Workers’ Claims.
Waiver of workers’ compensation benefits will enable you to sue your employer for your work-related injuries, but you must be able to prove that your employer was negligent. This is not the case with workers’ compensation benefits.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a construction work-related illness or injury, before you do anything, talk to an experienced Kentucky construction injury attorney to better understand your rights. We are committed to aggressively pursuing the full amount you need for financial security. Contact us today for a free case evaluation by scheduling online or calling 502-855-4177.