Legal Memorandum: First Responder Duties in KY

Issue: If an employer is required under Kentucky law to provide a first responder, what are the duty and the standard for negligence?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Workers Compensation Insurance
Keywords: Employer's duties; First responder duties; Standard for negligence
Jurisdiction: Federal, Kentucky
Cited Cases: 728 F.2d 799; 573 S.W.2d 645; 950 S.W.2d 834; 605 S.W.2d 29
Cited Statutes: Ky. Stat. § 311.668
Date: 10/01/2008

The employer’s liability to employees appears limited to either a workers’ compensation claim, a workers’ compensation claim plus a statutory penalty, or a civil lawsuit, depending on the circumstances. 

An employee suffering distress in the workplace is limited to a workers’ compensation claim, even if the employer breaches its OSHA first responder duties.  See Yocom v. Loy, 573 S.W.2d 645 (Ky. 1978) (a work-related heart attack is compensable only under workers’ compensation); Adee v. Russell Stover Candies, Inc., 186 P.3d 840 (Kan. Ct. App. 2008). 

If, however, the employer intentionally disregards an OSHA requirement or compliance order, the injured employee may recover a 15% penalty in addition to his rightful workers’ compensation benefits.  See Cabinet for Workforce Development v. Cummins, 950 S.W.2d 834 (Ky. 1997); Barmet of Ky., Inc. v. Sallee, 605 S.W.2d 29 (Ky. 1980); Wehr Constructors, Inc. v. Gibson, 2007 Ky. App. LEXIS 399, No. 2007-CA-000789-WC (Oct. 12, 2007).

If employer retains independent contractors, to whom workers’ compensation benefits are unavailable, the employer potentially faces civil liability in tort.  See Pennington v. Meadwestvaco Corp., 238 S.W.3d 667 (Ky. Ct. App. 2007); Teal v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co., 728 F.2d 799 (6th Cir. 1984); Hargis v. Baize, 168 S.W.3d 36 (Ky. 2005).  However, if the employer complies with statutory requirements for the acquisition and maintenance of an automated external defibrillator, the employer is immune from any civil liability for […]

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