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Kansas considering bills on mental injuries, disability


Lawmakers in Kansas read through a new proposal Tuesday that would expand the definition of compensable personal injury in workers compensation law to include mental injuries and would require the use of older guidelines when establishing disability.


S.B. 193 would amend the definition of occupational disease to include work-related mental injuries “which means a mental or behavioral disorder or a loss of mental faculties.”


The bill states that a mental injury may arise out of a compensable physical injury, “a sudden, severe emotional shock traceable to a specific work-related event,” or “a series of work-related events after which the employee develops a psychological injury.”


Lawmakers are also considering S.B. 189, which would require the use of the 4th edition of the American Medical Association medical guide to determine impairment for awarding workers compensation benefits. The state currently uses the 6th edition, which has been challenged in courts nationwide over its guidelines that some have argued led to reduced disability payments. Kansas Supreme Court on Jan. 8 ruled that the 6th edition could reasonably be interpreted as a guideline rather than a state mandate and was constitutional under state statutes.


Both bills would take effect after publication in the statute book.