Workers Compensation in Kentucky

Posted December 5th, 2018 by Jason Metz

Kentucky requires all businesses to have workers comp for employees, with only a few exceptions.

Workers compensation insurance usually pays medical bills and some lost income for a worker who gets hurt while doing a job-related function. The types of injuries covered by workers comp usually includes broken bones, burns and muscle injuries.

Kentucky workers compensation law states many of the details of who must be covered, who can be exempt from coverage and the specific limits of workers comp payments. Below are many of the specifics contained in the workers comp law in Kentucky. The Commonwealth of Kentucky Labor Cabinet also has a page with helpful information for employers.

Who's covered under Kentucky workers compensation laws?

Can any employees opt out of Kentucky workers compensation with a waiver?

Yes, employees can voluntarily reject coverage if done prior to an injury.

Is self-insurance for workers comp allowed in Kentucky?

Yes, for individual employers, groups of employers and political subdivisions. Political subdivisions in Kentucky are typically the state or a city, county, special district, school district or public agency.

By self-insuring, a business assumes responsibility for paying their own workers comp claims. A self-insured company typically hires a claims service company to handle claims administration and other services.

Are there exclusions for:

Small employers? No.

Agricultural employers? Yes.

Domestic employers? Yes, excluded if two or fewer employees working less than 40 hours per week.

Independent contractors? Yes.

Casual employees? No.

Volunteers? Yes.

Professional athletes? No.

Kentucky workers compensation medical benefits

Is there a Kentucky workers comp fee schedule?


Fee schedules define payments for surgery, radiology, hospital services, chiropractic care, ambulance service, prescription drugs and other medical services for an injured worker.

Are there limits on medical treatment?

Yes, reasonable and necessary limitations.


Who makes the initial choice of treating physician?

The employee. Managed care is optional, but if the employer has a managed care plan, an employee must choose from within that plan.

Laws about disability payments for workers compensation insurance in Kentucky

Workers compensation typically pays a worker part of their salary when they're unable to work due to a job-related injury. State laws define limits on the disability payment amounts and lengths, based on both permanent and temporary disability.


How are temporary total disability (TTD) payments calculated?

66 2/3% of the employee's pre-injury weekly wage at the time of injury subject to the state's average weekly wage (SAWW).

Weekly minimum: 20% of SAWW; 153.81

Weekly maximum: SAWW; 769.06

Maximum length of TDD benefits: For the duration of temporary total disability or until receipt of Social Security old age and survivor benefits.

How are permanent total disability (PTD) payments calculated?

66 ⅔% of the employee's average weekly wage subject to 100% of the state's average weekly wage (SAWW)..

Weekly minimum: $154.72

Weekly maximum: $773.61

Are there cost of living increases for PTD payments? No.

Maximum length of PTD benefits: Until the injured worker qualifies for normal old age Social Security.

How are permanent partial disability (PPD) payments calculated?

66 ⅔% of the employee's average weekly wage subject to maximum 75% of the state's average weekly wage (SAWW) multiplied by permanent impairment rating as determined by AMA guides statutory grid factor contained in KRS 342.730 (1) multiplied by other specific factors, if applicable.

Weekly minimum: None

Weekly maximum: $580.21

Fatality benefits under Kentucky workers compensation law

Maximum burial benefit: $75,988.88 (if death occurs within four years of the date of injury; as a direct result of work-related injury, a lump-sum payment of this amount, which is adjusted annually, shall be made to the deceased's estate, from which the cost of burial and transportation of the body to the employee's place of residence shall be paid.

Dependency benefits, weekly minimum: $154.72

Dependency benefits, weekly maximum: All combined cannot exceed amount payable for total disability.

When do children's dependency benefits end? At age 18; at age 22 if the child is a student; benefits can continue if child is disabled.

Other injuries covered by Kentucky workers compensation

Mental stress with no physical injury? No.

Cumulative trauma (such as injuries caused by repeated exposure or repetitive motion)? Yes.

Occupational hearing loss? Yes.

Disfigurement? Not separately; covered if results in a permanent impairment.

Source: Workers Compensation Research Institute, May 2016 report