Episode 5: Louisville workers’ compensation attorney Ched Jennings is joined in the studio by a client who sustained a career ending back injury at UPS. They just concluded a successful settlement of the workers’ comp claim and it’s had a significant impact on his client’s life and future.
The Jennings Law Offices
Ched has spent decades practicing law and supporting injured Kentucky workers. He’s represented clients from across the state. He’s seen many different types of workplace injuries ranging from relatively minor, to career-ending and even injuries resulting in fatalities. The system is there to support workers who have been injured on the job, but sometimes it’s a fight to get the benefits the person is entitled to under the law.
Disclaimer: Please note, there is no guarantee of results. Each claim involves its own facts and situation. The outcome of your claim may vary.
Bryan was a former UPS worker who sustained a back injury at work. He was a maintenance mechanic by trade. It’s a tough, physical job. The day he was injured started like any other day. He was moving some parts to a bin and felt a pop in his back. He immediately knew something was wrong.
Bryan called his supervisor to let him know what just happened. Notifying the employer of your injury is actually required by Kentucky workers’ compensation law. UPS sent him to a rehab facility. The treatment seemed to make the pain worse. He was placed on light-duty for roughly 3 months. After that, they basically didn’t have a way to keep him on the job.
Bryan found a back doctor and was told he needed back surgery. He received a fusion and treatment for some bulging disks. Interestingly, before this, Bryan had to go to the doctor the company wanted him to see. That doctor told him he had to return to work immediately or risk losing his job, regardless of the pain from his back injury.
When Bryan returned to work the next day, he was determined to make the best of it. Unfortunately, after a short period of time, it was obvious to Bryan he wouldn’t be able to continue this type of work, due to the pain. In the back of his mind was the doctor’s comments that he would lose everything if he didn’t return.
Bryan went to the Local 89 Union Hall and met with Ched Jennings. The discussed his back injury situation and they got to work finding him the medical treatment and benefits he needed.
Ched discusses the notification requirement and why it’s part of the law. He also explains how some insurance companies will try to use this against the injured worker. Ched also comments on some common tactics used by “the company doctor” to get you back to work, even if you’re not physically ready. In Kentucky, the injured worker has the right to choose his/her own doctor. This is a valuable right provided by Kentucky workers’ compensation law. This topic is covered in Episode 2 of the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation podcast.
You’ve Got Someone Who Will Stand Up for You
Ched explains that helping an injured worker to understand they don’t have to do this alone, is extremely important. He’ll be in the foxhole with them the whole way. The law is the law and the benefits are provided. When it comes time to push back on the employer and the insurance carrier, Ched and the Jennings Law Offices are ready.
It Can Be a Long Process, Especially when It’s a Serious Injury
The past year or so was very difficult for Bryan and his wife. These cases take time to resolve fairly. It’s not uncommon for the insurance company to delay and delay because they have to know the financial pressure an injured worker is experiencing. That pressure may force them to take a smaller settlement. Unfortunately, the company and the insurance company treat that smaller settlement as a win. Ched explains this tactic simply isn’t fair to the worker.
When a surgery is required, the timeline is extended. After the surgery, the injured worker needs time to heal and possibly complete physical rehab or other therapy. The doctors are trying to determine when the patient has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). This enables a doctor to assign an impairment rating, which indicates how the worker will be limited going forward. The rating is a key component in calculating workers’ comp benefits. Once this is ready, Ched will be able to schedule a hearing to present the argument for benefits in front of a judge.
The Mediation Option
Under Kentucky law, the injured worker also has the option of mediating the claim. This can speed up the resolution of the benefits claims and may result in an optimal outcome for the injured worker.
Just because the mediator feels the claim can be settled, doesn’t necessarily mean the worker and his/her attorney have to accept it. However, there are some definite benefits to using mediation, including a lump sum payment. This was extremely important for Bryan and his wife. They needed some financial security to help get them back on their feet.
Bryan comments how impressed he was with the mediation process. It seemed to go fairly smoothly.
Bryan and His Wife Now Have Peace of Mind
The day Bryan realized he wasn’t going to be able to continue doing the job and the reality of how it might impact his family’s finances, was devastating. From this point forward, they know they can make it, thanks to the settlement Ched was able to negotiate for him.
Bryan comments that the weight of worrying about their financial future is over. He wishes he could return to work. He misses his co-workers. They were like friends and family to him. However, there’s a good future ahead and he and his wife finally have peace of mind.
Ched Returns Your Calls
Bryan took a couple of minutes to tell listeners how satisfied he was with Ched’s responsiveness. He always returned phone calls, even if it was later in the evening. It helped to know his attorney was actively working for him, rather than just sitting around. There are waiting periods, but Bryan knew Ched was engaged and pushing the process where and when he could.
Bryan recommends anyone dealing with a workers’ compensation claim should prepare to be patient. It does take time to do this right. It may not always be easy, but it can definitely be worth it, if you’ll just hang in there.
Workplace Back Injury
Ched explains that many of his clients have experienced back injuries on the job. These are fairly common. Shoulder and knee injuries are also common problems for Kentucky workers.
Many of these claims have a significant impact on the lives of the injured worker. Ched spends a little bit of time discussing how Kentucky limits the fees paid to worker’s comp attorneys, so the funds primarily benefit the worker. It’s a good system and if you’ve been injured, you should speak to an experienced attorney about your rights under the Kentucky workers’ compensation laws.
Closing Remarks from Bryan
Bryan wraps up this episode with a few comments. Get someone to help you with your case. You need a good workers’ comp attorney. Another piece of advice is that you need to know yourself and your body. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right. If you can’t go back to work, don’t risk causing more harm to yourself.
He stresses the importance of getting your own doctor and getting all the way through whatever it takes in terms of both medical treatment and the legal process. Be patient. It’ll be worth it to you and your family in the end.
Do You Need a Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Office Phone: (502) 583-3882>>
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Principal Office Address: 401 West Main St., Suite 1910, Louisville, KY 40202
The Jennings Law Offices doesn’t charge for phone calls. Many union stewards and others have Ched’s cell phone number. If possible, we’d like you to come to the office. For some people, that doesn’t always work. Video calls might be an option. In fact, due to the pandemic, many of the hearings and other activities are handled via Zoom video conferencing. You can do a video call from your computer or a cell phone.
That’s it for this episode. Until next time, remember, this is the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Podcast. It’s what you need to know.
Principal Office in Louisville, KY