Kansas is one of several states to implement major changes to its workers compensation system in recent years. Many injured workers are unaware of the challenges these changes may create for employees seeking compensation for serious injuries that are not the result of a sudden accident but result from a prolonged course of exposure to degenerative conditions like repetitive motion injuries. We have provided an overview of some special considerations that every employee in Kansas with an injury that occurs over time should consider.
Prior to the overhaul in Kansas workers compensation laws about a year and a half ago, employees had two and a half months to report a work-related injury to their employer. The recent changes in Kansas workers compensation laws shortened this reporting time to twenty days. This time limit can be extremely unfair for an employee with an injury like carpel tunnel. Carpal tunnel may not immediate manifest symptom because it is a degenerative condition rather than an injury caused by a sudden traumatic accident.
The delayed symptoms of carpel tunnel may not occur when an employee is actually at work. If the onset of symptoms, such as pain, burning and tingling in the palm of the hand or fingers is during the time when an employee is not at work, there may be no reason to expect the employee to associate the injury with work duties. If the worker goes to his or her primary care physician, this will generally lead to a referral out to a specialist. The specialist may order diagnostic exams, but the process of a medical professional diagnosing the injury and linking it to work duties may take several weeks so that the employee fails to report the injury to his or her employer in a timely fashion.
The risk for employees of failing to report the injury within the required time is compounded because the employee’s health insurance may deny coverage for injuries that are work-related and fall under the auspices of workers compensation insurance.
Another issue that may arise because of the revisions made to Kansas workers compensation laws when employees suffer degenerative injuries involves establishing the “prevailing factor.” The revisions made to the workers compensation system require that job duties be the prevailing factor in causing a work-related injury. If a woman is pregnant, gestational diabetes increases a woman’s susceptibility to carpel tunnel. Because the physician will refer the employee to a physician, this complicates the process of proving the prevailing factor was an employee’s job duties. This may result in the need for 2nd opinions or increased litigation costs for injured workers in Kansas.
If you or someone close to you has suffered a work-related injury, experienced Kansas workers compensation lawyer Michael R. Lawless can help you pursue medical treatment, lost income and benefits for permanent disability. Our Lenexa, KS workers compensation law firm is dedicated to balancing the scales of justice so that you can obtain the compensation that you deserve. We invite you to call us toll free at 1-800-734-3771 or visit our website and submit a case inquiry form today.