VanAntwerp Attorneys, LLP
Phone: 606-618-0698

Settling an employee's workers' compensation claim

Employers in Kentucky will likely agree that of all the assets a business may claim, employees are the most valuable. Indeed, an insurance industry organization suggests that may be one reason why a recent poll indicated that for 35 percent of small business owner respondents, concern about workplace safety rates higher than other liability concerns.

When it comes to reducing risks of on-the-job injury, prevention is the first line of defense. When injuries do occur, the focus of workers' compensation benefits shifts to providing necessary medical care, income support during disability and helping individuals return to the ranks of the employed. But those benefits aren't intended to last forever, and as an employer, you have a right under the law to try to manage costs. One way of doing that might be settlement of the claim.

Disputed claims are often resolved through negotiation

Issues that might be addressed through a settlement agreement include such things as whether to provide the claimant with a lump sum payment that resolves the matter entirely. Alternatively, the agreement might involve providing only partial coverage, perhaps capping the worker's income benefits while maintaining coverage of ongoing medical care.

Settlement can mean complete closure of the case in some states. But in Kentucky, that might not always happen. It is possible to reopen a claim under certain conditions. Any involved party can seek the reopening on such grounds as:

  • Suspicion of fraud.
  • A claimant's return to work such that a permanent total disability award warrants reduction.

As an employer, it is good to be aware that a claimant has a right seek to reopen a claim to pursue temporary total disability during an award period. However, under recently enacted changes to Kentucky law, a 4-year statute of limitations likely applies.

One other factor subject to possible negotiation relates to an individual's return to work. It's reasonable for the worker's well-being and your company to promote re-employment, but benefits related to disability payments can often be renegotiated to limit how much is paid and for how long.

The conditions under which a settlement is possible are complicated and experienced legal counsel can help determine what terms are appropriate and most reasonable to meet your interests, and yet win the necessary approval from an administrative law judge.

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