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Workers Compensation

What To Do If You Have A Work Related Injury:

  • Notify your employer of when, where, and how you injured yourself
  • Make sure you get a copy of the papers filled out by the employer, and let them know if there is any mistake
  • If your doctor says you are unable to work, make sure your employer knows
  • Make sure the doctor knows exactly what is happening to you, don't just say "fine" or "a little better", give the doctor specifics
  • If you receive notice that any bill is unpaid, contact your Tennessee workers' compensation insurance company immediately and find out why the bill is unpaid
  • Everyone you talk to (your employer, the insurance company, or the State) will be taking notes on what you say. Keep your own notes of what happens and your conversations.
  • Make sure your doctor knows that you want to get back to work as soon as possible. If you have problems after returning to work let your doctor know immediately.
  • If your employer or co-workers ask when you will return to work, tell them "as soon as the doctor lets me"

Contact one of our workers' compensation attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your specific situation.

Do I Need A Lawyer To Claim Workers' Compensation in Tennessee?

If your injury or illness is serious or if it affects your arms, legs, neck, or back you should talk to one of our workers' compensation lawyers about your claim, even if it is elsewhere in the U.S. People who handle their own claim often make innocent, but serious mistakes.
A Lawyer Experienced In Handling Tennessee Workers' Compensation Can Usually:

  • Make sure that you don't lose your benefits due to a miscommunication between the doctor and insurance company
  • Confirm the insurance company is paying you the correct amount
  • Evaluate the doctors on the panel offered to determine if one might be best for your case
  • Compare the impairment rating in your case to the rating given by other doctors for the same or similar injuries
  • Evaluate your case for factors that may make it worth more, or less than other cases
  • Help you evaluate the importance of keeping "future medicals" versus a cash payment for "future medicals"
  • See that you are treated fairly at any "Benefit Review Conference"
  • Advise you of the possible financial implications of a Tennessee workers' compensation settlement on social security benefits and other claims
  • Advise you of the effect of your settlement on your right to ask for additional monies if you lose your job in the future

Structure your settlement so it will not reduce a later award for social security disability.

What is the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act, what is covered and how can I qualify?

The Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act is a special law passed by Tennessee legislature to give workers financial benefits when they are injured on the job (provided their employer has five or more employees). This law does not apply to farm labor, domestic help, state, or public employees. However, state employees are entitled to similar benefits through the State Board of Claims.

Injuries Covered:

Any injury, occupational disease, or death, which occurs "out of and in the course of employment," is covered by Tennessee workers' compensation. It does not matter who was at fault in the accident. Covered injuries include broken bones, muscle strains, back and neck problems, loss of strength and/or flexibility, heart problems, diseases related to your employment, and others.

Qualifying For Benefits:

If you are injured on the job, you must notify your employer as soon as possible. If the employer doesn't have actual notice of your injury (as might be the case where your supervisor approved you going to the hospital for x-rays) then you must give the employer written notice within 30 days of the injury. You may lose your right to claim Tennessee workers' compensation if you fail to do this. The safest action for any injured worked is to see that someone files a correct, written report of injury.

The Waiting Period:

Your benefits are limited to medical expenses for the first 7 days. If you continue to be disabled and unable to work after 7 days, you can receive retroactive benefits from the date of your injury or illness. Workers' compensation cases can quickly get complicated. If you have any questions regarding your case, contact one our expert workers' compensation attorneys at our offices in Tennessee for a free consultation.

What Should I Know About Making a Tennessee Workers' Compensation Claim?

Tennessee workers' compensation benefits include medical expenses, partial pay while you are off work, and compensation for permanent limitations or restrictions, which affect your wage earning ability. The following paragraphs describe those benefits in some detail.

Medical Expenses Covered Under Tennessee Workers' Compensation:

Your employer is legally obligated to pay for all medical treatment, surgical procedures, prescriptions, medical supplies, or equipment, which is related to your injury and prescribed by the "authorized" doctor. This may include future medical expenses related to your injury. The employer or their insurance company is only obligated to pay bills for "authorized" medical treatment (unless they have refused to give you the names of doctors to see, or the bill is for emergency room services less than $300). Tennessee workers' compensation law requires your employer or their insurance company to give you a "panel" of three doctors to use in making your choice of doctor. Since the doctor you choose can make such a large difference in your case, this is a decision where it is best to consult one of our workers' compensation lawyers who is experienced in handling on-the-job injury cases.

Partial Pay While You Are Unable to Work:

"Temporary total disability" is a term, which describes the time period when an injury prevents you from returning to work. This is generally the time needed to recover and rehabilitate from your injury. It ends when your doctor releases you to go back to work, or determines that you have reached your maximum medical improvement. During your period of "temporary total disability", you are entitled to compensation equaling 2/3rds of your average weekly wage. The law provides a maximum figure so that, regardless of your actual wages, your employer need not pay more than the legal weekly maximum. For more information on this and other Tennessee workers' compensation issues, contact our workers' compensation attorneys.

Workers' Compensation Payment For Permanent Limitations And Restriction:

Most injuries do not result in total disability, but in restrictions, which can limit a worker's strength, endurance, or capacity for work. This is called "permanent partial disability". As an injured worker, you are entitled to compensation for any permanent impairment, even though you may have returned to your regular job at the same (or even better) pay. This is in addition to the temporary benefits you receive while recovering from your injury. One of our workers' compensation lawyers at our offices in Tennessee will be more than happy to answer your questions.

How Much Is My "Permanent Disability" Worth?

The amount of compensation you are entitled to depends on the nature of your injury, its effect on your wage earning capacity, and the impairment rating given by your doctor. If anyone with your employer, their insurance company or the State says, "This is all you can get." Get a second opinion! Our workers' compensation attorneys can answer these and other questions about your case in Tennessee and the U.S.

What Is A Rating For Permanent Impairment?

When you have recovered (or reached "maximum medical improvement") your doctor will generally determine whether you have some permanent medical impairment. This will, in part, determine what you will be paid for your permanent problems. Doctors do not always agree on whether someone has a permanent impairment, or how much. Doctors who are approved by a Tennessee workers' compensation company may believe that you have no impairment, or a small impairment, when another doctor may believe your impairment is much higher.

Can I Determine What My Workers' Compensation Claim Is Worth?

It is not easy, and if you are handling your own claim, you will probably be dealing with an insurance adjuster who is more experienced than yourself. The adjuster's goal is to minimize the amount paid to you, so take anything said with a grain of salt. There are maximum payments for work related injuries, which are permanent, but a different doctor may evaluate your case much more favorably than the doctor paid by Tennessee workers' compensation. The question, "How much is my case worth?" is complex enough to consider getting expert legal help. Our workers' compensation lawyers will be more than happy to assist you.

What Is The Benefit Review Conference?

When you reach maximum medical improvement your employer and/or their insurance company may demand a "Benefit Review Conference." During such a conference the employer and insurance company will have representatives present to "negotiate" a settlement that is good for them. If you've been told to come to a benefit review conference, you should have someone with you experienced in workers' compensation such as one of our lawyers in our offices in Tennessee. If you go by yourself to a meeting like this, you may be told you are being offered all your case is worth, and feel pressured to "make a deal." Don't agree to any offers until you have had time to discuss the possible advantages and disadvantages with one of our experienced workers' compensation attorneys in Tennessee.

Do I Have To File a Workers' Compensation Claim?

If your case is not filed within one year of your injury or one year from the time you knew your injury was permanent, you may lose any right to make a Tennessee workers' compensation claim. Many workers' compensation claims are settled without filing suit, but filing the case may be necessary to protect your claim. You should consult one of our workers' compensation lawyers in to determine how much time you have left before it is necessary to file suit.

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Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilreath & Associates offer free and personal consultation to help you evaluate your legal options.
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