Are More Pro-Business Reforms Coming?
Erlanger Republican Rep. Adam Koenig is spearheading an effort to pass a comprehensive workers’ compensation reform package in the House of Representatives that he says will remove “additional burdens” on state businesses that “drive up costs” on state employers.
Although Rep. Koenig said the forthcoming plan will “really not affect workers very much,” his record suggests otherwise. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest business lobbying groups in the state, recently gave Rep. Koenig its MVP Award not only for his pro-business voting record, but also because he often “went out of [his] way. . .to support or oppose an issue critical to the business climate in Kentucky.” Furthermore, in 2016, Rep. Koenig co-sponsored rather controversial reporting amendments to the existing workers’ compensation law.
It may be a year of change for other workplace laws as well, as lawmakers recently passed a right-to-work law.
Covered Workers’ Compensation Injuries
In this era of perennial budget cuts, watchdog agencies are often woefully understaffed. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for example, has only about 2,000 inspectors charged with keeping tabs on about 130 million workers. As a result, it is all but impossible for the state Occupational Safety and Health office, or any other agency, to ensure workplace safety.
Many workers’ compensation injuries are among OSHA’s fatal four:
- Falls: Almost 40 percent of workplace fatalities are fall-related, especially on construction sites and other high-risk areas.
- Electrocutions: It is usually very difficult for construction workers, repair workers, and everyday office workers to distinguish between a dead wire and a live one.
- Struck By: The old story that a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building becomes a fatal projectile is not far from the truth.
- Caught Between: Elevators and other mechanical conveyances are wonderful workplace aids when they work correctly, but highly dangerous when they malfunction.
Under the state’s workers’ compensation law, contributory negligence is normally not a legal defense to injured workers’ claims. Moreover, under Kentucky law, injured workers are normally entitled to full benefits even if they have pre-existing impairments.
In addition to medical bills, workers’ compensation reimburses injured victims for lost wages. If they can return to work, victims usually receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage; if they are completely disabled, most injured workers receive fixed payouts.
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance that pays for economic damages. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Leitchfield, contact Attorney Gary S. Logsdon. Home and hospital visits are available.