Bell v. Consol of Kentucky, Inc., No. 2009-CA-000673-WC (Ky. App. 2009) (designated to be published). Claimant Bell entered into a settlement for benefits to be paid as a result of injuries he sustained in a work-related accident. Bell thereafter died in an un-related accident and his wife motioned to receive the full amounts of the remaining settlement benefits. The ALJ allowed for distribution of benefits to the widow, but only at 50% of the rate specified in the settlement agreement as required under KRS 342.730(3). Bell ‘s widow essentially argued on appeal that since the benefits were paid per a settlement and not an opinion and award, KRS 342.730(3) did not apply. The Court of Appeals, noting that the claim appeared to be one of first impression, held that KRS 342.730(3) applied with the same effect for a settlement as with an opinion and award.
Commentary: While this claim did appear to address an issue of first impression in Kentucky, the Court was correct in applying the same statutory provision to a settlement as would apply to an opinion and award since Kentucky law conveys the same weight to an approved settlement agreement as it does to an opinion and award. See Jude v. Cubbage, 251 S.W.2d 584 (Ky. 1952) (cited by the Bell court).