Kansas and COVID-19
March 30, 2020
On behalf of our entire team, we hope that you are doing as well as possible during this complicated time. We have prepared the following update for your reference as it pertains to Kansas court operations, and potential claims related to COVID-19.
- Are the Courts Open?
No, except for emergency operations.
The Workers’ Compensation Division may hold settlement hearings by telephone. Some ALJs will hold hearings by telephone or videoconference.
- Have state or local authorities issued any executive Orders?
The Governor has signed several proclamations related to: (1) relaxing in-person medical examination requirements for medications; (2) relaxing requirements for out-of-state telemedicine; (3) issuing temporary emergency licenses for healthcare providers; (4) relaxing requirements for commercial carriers participating in relief efforts; (5) waiving vehicle and license renewal deadlines; (6) extending tax deadlines until July 15, 2020; and (7) extending deadlines for property tax relief refund claims until October 15, 2020.
- What is the potential for workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19 exposure?
COVID-19 exposure may be compensable as an occupational disease. K.S.A. §44-5a01(a) defines “occupational disease” as a disease arising out of and in the course of employment resulting from the nature of the employment in which the employee was engaged, and was actually contracted while engaged in employment.
An employee’s COVID-19 infection is compensable only if the employee can show that the “nature of the employment” created a particular and peculiar hazard that was in excess of the general hazard of the disease. Most employees will not be able to meet this standard. Healthcare workers treating infected patients will likely be able to prove that their employment created a particular hazard of COVID-19 infection in excess of the general hazard of infection. The distinction becomes more difficult for retail workers, warehouse employees, delivery drivers, and grocery store clerks.
- What effect might employer lay-off’s have on current claims?
We believe employers who may not have light duty work available due to COVID-19 will be responsible for TTD/TPD benefits. Similarly, delayed medical treatment due to COVID-19 should not result in suspended benefits.
Our team is fully operational and we are here to provide you with any support, advice, and/or service that may be helpful during this complicated time. This situation is rapidly changing, so please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our team members if you have any questions, comments or concerns, and we will be sure to provide you with a prompt response.
Please stay safe and healthy.