You may be eligible for Kansas workers’ compensation benefits if you suffer a workplace injury or illness. Workers’ comp benefits include medical treatment, wage loss compensation, and other financial assistance. However, you must follow a specific claim process to receive benefits.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. You do not need to show that your employer acted carelessly in order to receive benefits. As long as your injury happened on the job or was caused by your work activities, you will typically be eligible for benefits.
Eligible workers may receive a variety of benefits, including:
However, unlike with a lawsuit in court, your employer does not have to compensate you for your pain and suffering. In other words, you cannot get compensation for having to endure physical discomfort, emotional distress, or other inconveniences caused by your injury.
In Kansas, most employers must have workers’ compensation coverage. Employers either purchase a workers’ comp policy from a private insurance company or receive certification from the state to self-insure. Self-insured companies directly pay their workers’ claims. In general, only large, financially stable employers will qualify to self-insure. The Division of Workers’ Compensation oversees the administration of all workers’ comp claims in the state and resolves disputes.
In Kansas, you must promptly notify your employer of a work-related injury. The notice deadlines vary, depending on the nature of your injury. You must notify your employer within:
Typically, you must meet the earliest of the deadlines that apply to your claim. If you do not notify your employer of the injury in a timely manner, you may lose some or all of your benefits.
Under Kansas law, an injury report may be either oral or written. If you orally report an injury, your employer may have a designated person or department that accepts accident reports. (An oral report to another individual may not be considered valid notice.) If you make a written report, you should submit it to your supervisor at your primary place of employment.
When you notify your employer, you must include:
It must be obvious that you are reporting an injury and requesting workers’ comp. When completing the report, be as accurate as possible; any inconsistencies may be used against you in a disputed claim.
An occupational disease is caused by workplace exposure to chemicals, bacteria, viruses, and other hazards. In Kansas, different notice rules apply in occupational disease claims. For most claims, you should give your employer written notice of an occupational disease within 90 days of becoming disabled.
Once you notify your employer, it must report your injury to its insurance company and refer you to an occupational doctor. It is important to provide the doctor with accurate information about the cause of your injuries and the severity of your symptoms. Insurance companies rely heavily on initial medical records when they evaluate claims. Either downplaying or exaggerating your symptoms may result in a denial of benefits.
Your employer must file a claim with its insurance company with 28 days of your notice. The insurance company will then investigate your claim and determine your eligibility for benefits. An insurance company investigation may involve:
In Kansas, the insurance company must promptly determine eligibility for workers’ comp benefits. If your claim is approved, you will start receiving disability payments and other benefits. Unfortunately, insurance companies deny many workers’ compensation claims.
If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal. To file an appeal, you must file an Application for Hearing with the Division within either:
Unless your claim is very simple, you should consider hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer. The insurance company will have a lawyer, and you may be at a disadvantage if you proceed without an attorney. (To learn more, see Should I Hire a Workers' Comp Attorney or Can I Handle My Own Case?) Kansas also offers assistance from its Ombudsman Program.