We'd previously written about the drastic and extremely harsh changes that the Kansas legislature and Brownback administration brought to their workers' compensation laws. You can read our initial concerns here. While we were correct about those initial concerns, it looks like it's even worse than we thought.
For almost every type and severity of injury, Kansas has reduced the compensation a disabled worker can receive. In some cases, permanent partial disability compensation has been all but eliminated. Many other attorneys we know have stated that they will no longer handle Kansas claims leaving injured workers to fend for themselves. From what we have seen so far, employers and their insurance carriers now think it's open season on the injured workers of this State.
We recently signed up multiple clients who are being denied medical treatment and disability benefits even though the employers admit that they were hurt on the job. Their own company doctors acknowledge that medical treatment and diagnostic testing are needed and have given temporary restrictions. In other words, there are no defenses in the claims. Why, then, would the insurance company refuse to pay for the necessary medical treatment and for the lost-time benefits while these people are unable to work? BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH IT NOW AND NO ONE WILL HELP!
Think about that for a moment. The representatives for the people of Kansas have set up a system that, in many cases, will no longer support permanent partial disability benefits. A portion of those benefits is usually used to help pay us attorneys to handle the claims and secure the necessary benefits. The insurance companies will still have plenty of money to pay their attorneys, but now the injured workers won't. So, they figure, why bother doing what the law actually requires!?
One of our new clients has been out of work since early May because the employer refuses to provide work within its own doctor's restrictions. In the meantime, the insurance company has refused to authorize treatment or to pay temporary disability benefits for the lost time. When he came to us, this single father of a young girl said he contacted three other law firms who said they no longer handle Kansas claims. We did take him on because, frankly, his situation just ticked us off!
Unfortunately, it is now becoming quite clear that this is not an isolated incident. It is becoming the norm. Your fellow citizens are literally being tossed to the curb by the very people who are supposed to represent them in the Kansas legislature. Put yourself in that father's shoes for just a moment and know that you could be just one accident away from being in the same situation.
We will not be able to take on every situation like this, but we are going to do what we can. Part of that effort is to educate anyone who will read or listen to the real-life effects these changes in the law have had. We hope that you will do your part as well by making your voice heard and by making your vote count next time around. We will provide updates on attempts to fix these problems and who to put pressure on through our Facebook page as more information becomes available. Big business may have the bucks, but WE are the ones who vote!