Kansas Supreme Court upholds workers’ compensation law

photo by: AP File Photo

Justices return from recess during hearings before the Kansas Supreme Court in Topeka, Kan., Thursday, May 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

BELLE PLAINE (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday upheld a state law which governs how much money workers who are injured on the job can collect.

The court ruled that an amendment to the Kansas Workers Compensation Act was constitutional because it did not alter the requirement that a worker’s impairment be “established by competent medical evidence.”

The court last year heard arguments over which edition of the American Medical Association guide should be used for evaluating injuries in determining compensation to injured workers in Kansas.

Critics argued that the Sixth Edition of the AMA guide adopted by the Legislature unfairly limits compensation to injured workers, reducing compensation by as much as 40% to 70%. Supporters contended it better reflects technical advancements by replacing the outdated guidelines.

The court said the reference to the guidelines in the statute does not make it unconstitutional because they are merely a guide and only serve as a starting point for any medical opinion.

It reversed a 2018 ruling by the Court of Appeals that had found the updated law unconstitutional.

“Our position has been that the Legislature had authority to update the law as it did,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement. “Today the Supreme Court agreed.”

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