Almost every business in Kansas is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. So if you’re an employee, you’re all but guaranteed to be covered.

However, even if you’re protected under your employer’s plan, there are several factors that determine workers’ compensation eligibility. Join us as we explore the qualifications for workers’ compensation in Kansas to help you determine whether you can receive financial support following a workplace injury.

Who qualifies for workers’ compensation?

Whether you’re a full-time, part-time, or seasonal employee, you’re covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation plan from your very first day on the job. In Kansas, the only employment categories that are exempt from this requirement are:

  • Businesses with a gross annual payroll of $20,000 or less
  • Certain agricultural pursuits
  • Realtors who qualify as independent contractors
  • Firefighters belonging to a firefighter’s relief association that has waived coverage under the workers’ compensation law
  • Sole proprietors, LLC members, and partners (all other employees need to be covered if the payroll is greater than $20,000)
  • Certain owner-operated vehicle drivers covered by their own occupational accident insurance policy

However, it’s important to emphasize that workers’ compensation eligibility only applies to employees. That being the case, a company’s workers’ comp policy typically doesn’t extend to:

  • Independent contractors
  • Sole traders
  • Freelancers
  • Gig contractors

If you come under any of these categories, you might need to take out your own insurance policy to qualify for benefits following a workplace accident.

That said, there are some exceptions. If your work with a client company as an independent contractor is almost indistinguishable from employee status, you might qualify for workers’ comp benefits. And if you do, the company might be penalized for misclassifying workers

For more detailed information on who qualifies for workers’ compensation, please read our publication on whether independent contractors qualify for workers’ compensation.

How to qualify for workers’ compensation in Kansas

Under K.S.A. 44-508, you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you sustain a workplace injury or illness in which:

  • There’s a causal link between your working conditions and the resulting accident
  • The accident is the main cause of your injury, medical condition, or impairment

Following your accident, you must report it to your employer – orally or in writing – within the earliest of:

  • 20 days from the accident (or the statutory date of injury for repetitive trauma such as carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • 20 days from the date you sought medical treatment, if you’re still working for your employer
  • 10 days after the last day you worked, if you’re no longer employed by your employer

If your employer hasn’t specified a written policy on who to report to following an accident, you should report to your direct supervisor. This could be your manager, a safety official, or the company’s Human Resources department.

Note that if you fail to provide notice within 20 days, you may still qualify for workers’ comp. But if you fail to provide notice within 75 days, your claim will certainly be barred.

Once you’ve notified your employer, it’s their responsibility to inform the director of the workers’ compensation division within 28 days.

Provided you meet these qualifications for workers’ compensation, you should be eligible to receive financial support. For a rough estimate on how much you could receive, you might want to look into how workers’ compensation benefits are calculated in Kansas.

However, it’s not uncommon for employers and their insurance companies to downplay your injuries or offer a low settlement to save money. So it’s recommended to seek legal representation to ensure you receive suitable compensation to make the best possible recovery.

What disqualifies you from workers’ compensation?

The qualifications for workers’ compensation depend on your injury arising from your employer’s negligence. So if your injury or illness didn’t arise from your occupational duties, or you yourself are responsible, you might lose your workers’ compensation eligibility.

Defining workplace injury

K.S.A. 44-508 also mentions that workers’ comp benefits won’t apply for accidents or injuries that arise from:

  • The natural aging process
  • Normal activities of day-to-day living
  • A neutral risk unrelated to employment
  • Personal risk
  • Idiopathic causes

Similarly, you won’t qualify if your injuries occurred:

  • While you were on the way to assume workplace duties or after leaving those duties (such as driving to or from work)
  • While you were engaged in recreational or social events you were under no duty to attend
  • Where you injury didn’t result from performing your normal job duties, or those specifically instructed by your employer

Impairment from alcohol or drugs

You don’t qualify for compensation if your workplace injury was influenced by your impairment from alcohol or drugs.

This includes prescription and non-prescription medications. However, you may still qualify for benefits if:

  • The medications were taken in therapeutic doses
  • You hadn’t been impaired on the job from such medications within the past 24 months

If it’s shown that you were impaired by alcohol or drugs, it will be assumed that your impairment contributed to your accident. In this case, you’ll be disqualified from receiving workers’ comp benefits.

To prove whether or not this was the case, your employer may ask you to submit a chemical test. If you refuse and your employer has good reason to suspect the use of alcohol or drugs, or their policy clearly authorizes post-injury testing, you will forfeit your benefits.

Safety violations

Since your workers’ compensation eligibility depends on your employer’s negligence, you won’t qualify is your injury results from:

  • Deliberate intention to cause your own injury
  • Willful failure to use protection against accident or injury that’s both relevant to statutes and provided for you
  • Willful failure to use reasonable protection your employer has voluntarily provided
  • Reckless violation of workplace safety rules and regulations
  • Voluntarily fighting or engaging in horseplay with a coworker for any reason, work related or otherwise

Coronary disease and stroke

Kansas law doesn’t provide compensation for coronary or coronary artery disease, or cerebrovascular injury (e.g. stroke) unless it was caused by exertion beyond what’s normally required by your workplace duties.

Similarly, you can still qualify if those conditions arose due to extreme heat.

Pre-existing disability

Having a pre-existing disability won’t disqualify you from workers’ comp. But your compensation for any permanent disability arising from your workplace injury may be reduced by the existence of a rating on any relevant pre-existing disability.

Get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve with Phalen Law

Workers’ comp exists to provide financial support for those who have suffered an injury or illness at work caused by employer negligence.

However, applying for and winning workers’ comp benefits is a complex process. And it needs to be conducted in a very specific manner, with very specific details and evidence, to ensure a strong case with a suitable payout.

That’s why your first step in filing a workers’ compensation claim in Kansas should always be to speak with a local specialist in workers’ comp law.

At Phalen Law, we’ve spent more than 50 years representing clients like you throughout southeast Kansas. We’re known for our personalized service and proven track record, and have fought landmark cases all the way to the Supreme Court to get justice for our clients. Now, we want to use our extensive knowledge and expertise to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Call now toll-free or fill out our online Free Case Evaluation form today to arrange your free no-obligation consultation.

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William L. Phalen

For 30 years, Bill Phalen has been representing families and workers whose lives have been devastated by workplace injuries, reckless drivers and the negligence of others. When tragedy needlessly strikes – because of the irresponsible behavior of an employer, corporation or an insurance company – Bill Phalen is an advocate for the people, always representing David in the fight against Goliath. Bill’s strong convictions have led to successful cases at the Court of Appeals and Kansas Supreme Court.

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I was hurt at work and Mr Phalen took my case on and worked on it for over a year and was able to successfully get me a settlement check for my injuries. Hire him if you’re ever injured on the job!
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