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Here are statistics and an outline of the Kentucky workers' compensation program. If you are denied benefits, you may qualify for legal representation.

Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Benefits: How to Apply

Important: We updated this article in June 2023 so all the information below is current and correct. If you were hurt or got sick on the job in the Bluegrass State, here’s the information you need to get the Kentucky workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to.

Who Gets Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

Commonwealth law requires employers with at least one employee to offer Kentucky workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Read more about how to qualify for workers’ comp.

Pro Tip: Sole proprietors and LLC members or partners may opt into this coverage, but it’s not mandatory.

There are some exceptions, though:

  • Federal employees and railroad workers (Get the details for filing a federal workers’ comp claim)
  • Agricultural workers
  • Domestic workers employed in a private residence unless there are more than two of them working in the home full-time
  • Religious or charitable organization employees that receive aid or sustenance in exchange for their services
  • Anyone whose injuries result from intentional self-harm, or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the incident occurs

Pro tip: Learn more about workers’ comp for independent contractors and family businesses.

Should I Hire a Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?

Hiring an experienced attorney can make the process easier for you.

Pro Tip: Learn how to tell if you need a workers’ comp lawyer.

The Kentucky Labor & Education Cabinet, which oversees workers’ comp in the Commonwealth, recommends engaging a lawyer “to represent you through this process; however, it is not required. If you proceed without legal counsel, you are proceeding ‘pro se’…and are held to the same standards an attorney.”

How Does the Claims Process Work?

Every case is different, so your specific experience may vary. Kentucky workers’ compensation benefits pay medical bills related to your workplace injury. You may also receive lost wage payments if you need more than a week off to recover.

Pro Tip: If you have any pre-existing health conditions, then you may want to consult a workers’ compensation attorney.

Each case is different, but according to the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims (DWC), the workplace accident claim process usually works like this:

1. See a nurse or doctor if your workplace injury or illness requires emergency or urgent care.

Tell them your is work-related and keep your receipts and bills.

2. Report your workplace injury or illness to your supervisor or employer immediately, preferably in writing.

Describe the accident that injured you or caused your illness. Include the time, date, place, and any witnesses who saw it happen. 

Pro Tip: You must file a written claim within two years of your accident date to qualify for Kentucky workers’ compensation. You have three years to claim workers’ comp for any occupational illness.

3. Choose a doctor and begin getting care.

If you don’t like the first healthcare provider you see, you can change doctors once with no questions asked. To change again, you must get authorization from your employer’s insurance provider. 

Pro Tip: Make sure your doctor knows your condition is work-related. See how a Kentucky workers’ compensation doctor can help you.

4. File a paper claim by mail.

Your employer’s insurance provider must approve or deny your claim within 45 days of your filing date. You or your attorney should get a Notice of Claim Denial or Acceptance in the mail.

Pro Tip: If you hire a workers’ compensation attorney, they can handle the claims process for you.

5. Take action within 30 days if your claim’s denied.

The DWC assigns an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to review your case. If you’re unhappy with the ALJ’s ruling, you can file another appeal within 30 days or request mediation.

Pro Tip: If you’re confused or worried, hire a Kentucky worker’s comp lawyer to help you appeal.

Click here to get all the details on the Kentucky workerscompensation program.

What Else Should I Know About Kentucky Workers’ Compensation?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzes workers’ comp data on most U.S. states and territories. Claims activity in the Commonwealth declined in 2019. The total number of recordable cases dropped from 50,600 in 2018 to 46,900 in 2019 and remained below pre-COVID levels since.

The number of claims reported in the service sector – and the total number of employees missing work, transferring jobs, or receiving restrictions – also fell during COVID. Both metrics spiked in 2020, likely attributable to accidents and illnesses driven by the return to work. Since then, each figure has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

When you’re dealing with a work-related illness or injury, navigating the Kentucky workers’ compensation system can make the discomfort and frustration even worse. A skilled attorney can help you get maximum benefits faster. They’ll do a free, confidential claim evaluation. If they take your case, they can negotiate with insurers, gather medical evidence to support your claim and represent you at hearings.

If you don’t win a cash settlement, then you pay your lawyer $0. But if your case is successful, then you pay only a reasonable, one-time fee.

Ready to see if you qualify? Click the button below to sign up for a free phone call during regular weekday business hours:

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation

Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/X: @word_factory LinkedIn: