While workers’ compensation benefits provide medical treatment, travel reimbursement, and partial wage replacement, there are cases where a worker may be denied benefits, required to negotiate a settlement for long-term benefits, or forced to explore options outside of the workers’ comp system. In such cases, an experienced Morristown workplace accident lawyer can help to navigate the claims process and protect a worker’s rights.
The Terry Law Firm has been fighting for the rights of injured workers in East Tennessee since 1960. Our knowledgeable workplace accident lawyers are committed to holding employers and negligent third parties accountable for injuries suffered on the job. We know that your livelihood may be at stake, and our attorneys are prepared to fight for you with the full strength of the firm’s considerable experience and resources.
Because of the one-year statute of limitations on filing a workplace injury claim, it is important to take legal action and retain the services of an experienced Morristown personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Learn about your legal rights and options during a no-cost, no-obligation case review. Get started now.
What to Do After a Tennessee Work Injury
Tennessee workers injured on the job need to follow certain protocols to preserve their right to a workers’ compensation claim. This includes:
- Report a work-related injury to your supervisor within 15 calendar days of the date of the injury, or from the date a doctor first tells you that your injury is work-related.
- Receive medical care from an Authorized Treating Physician and sign an agreement between Employer/Employee Choice of Physician (Form C-42). If your injury requires emergency treatment, you will be taken to the closest emergency hospital. Once the injury is stabilized, or for injuries not requiring emergency care, you will have to choose from a panel of at least three employer-provided physicians. Refusal to accept medical services from the chosen physician could result in a delay of the employee’s benefits rights.
- File a Petition for Benefit Determination (PBD) form with the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. This time-sensitive form must be filed within one year after the accident resulting in injury to initiate a workers’ comp claim. It is also used to address a workers’ compensation issue, such as unpaid disability or medical benefits.
- Report for light duty offered by your employer. Although injury might prevent you from fulfilling your previous work duties, the treating physician may declare that you are fit to work fewer hours, or perform a different type of work. Based on this, your employer may offer you suitable work. Failure to work may terminate your disability benefits.
You should also contact a workplace accident attorney as soon as possible after suffering an on-the-job injury. An attorney can provide valuable advice about the claims process and answer any questions you might have. Even if you do not end up hiring a lawyer, a free consultation can bring peace of mind.
Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Benefits
A Tennessee employee who suffers a work-related injury is entitled to the following benefits:
- No-Cost Medical Treatment: Your employer’s insurance company should pay for all treatment related to the workplace injury, for as long as recommended by the authorized treating physician. Recommended treatment that is denied by the insurance company can be sent to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Utilization Review Program for appeal.
- Travel Expenses: Mileage to and from medical appointments is reimbursed for travel exceeding 15 miles one way.
- Wage Replacement: Temporary disability benefits replace an injured worker’s wages, typically at the rate of two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wages in the 52 weeks preceding the injury.
- You are eligible for wage replacement benefits on your eighth day of missed work.
- If you miss 14 or more days of work, benefits are retroactively paid to the first day of disability.
- If you are able to work, but your average weekly wage is reduced due to work restrictions, you may be entitled to partial disability benefits, which pays two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages.
- Temporary total disability benefits are paid to workers unable to perform work at all during the recovery period.
- When you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), the treating physician may determine that you are permanently disabled, either partially or totally. In these cases, you may be entitled to long-term wage replacement benefits and medical benefits.
- Death Benefits: A workplace illness or injury that results in death may entitle the worker’s dependents to death benefits, including a percentage of the worker’s average weekly wage and funeral and burial expenses. Limits and restrictions apply to the amount of death benefits paid.
Injured workers have the right to dispute the insurance company’s decisions regarding their workers’ compensation benefits. During the benefit review process, it is in your best interest to have a workplace injury attorney on your side, since you will be going up against the insurer and its legal team.
About Workplace Injuries
Workplace accidents and injuries are extremely prevalent. They produce great costs for individual workers and the economy at large.
Occurring at a clip of about 510 per hour, 12,300 per day, 86,500 per week, and 4,500,000 per year, workplace injuries result in more than 1 million production days lost per year. The most disabling injuries cost U.S. employers around $60 billion annually in direct costs. When indirect costs are included, that figure increases to more than $150 billion. The cost per injured worker of wage losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, and employer costs is around $32,000.
The most common causes of workplace injuries are:
- Overextension, including lifting or lowering motions and repetitive motions
- Other exertions or bodily reactions, such as reaching, sitting, slipping, bending, standing, or climbing-related injuries
- Falls on the same level, otherwise known as a slip and fall
- Falls to a lower level, often resulting from inadequate employee protections
- Contact with objects and equipment, such as being struck by or against, or being caught in, compressed by, or crushed by objects and equipment
- Incidents involving motorized vehicles, including car and truck accidents on roadways and equipment such as tractors in farm fields
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments
- Violence by people or animals
- Fires and explosions
Common Injuries in the Workplace
Workplace accidents frequently lead to serious injuries that require expensive medical care, such as:
- Burn injuries
- Sprains, strains, and tears
- Soreness and pain
- Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
- Bruises and contusions
Industries Most at Risk for Work Injuries
The occupations with the largest number of workplace injuries resulting in missed work time include:
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting
- Transportation, shipping, and warehousing
- Health care and social assistance
- Manufacturing and production
- Installation, maintenance, and repair
- Service occupations (including police officers and firefighters)
In addition to the nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries that occur each year, roughly 5,000 workers die on the job each year. Workplaces have generally gotten safer over the years, but virtually all workplace accidents are preventable. Worker safety is ultimately the employer’s responsibility.
When to Hire a Morristown Workplace Accident Lawyer
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, but many workers who go up against the system find that it isn’t on their side. At a minimum, you should consider speaking with a trusted workers’ compensation attorney to get a sense of how the claims process works and how to protect your rights. Certain situations, however, make it paramount to seek the counsel of an attorney.
Your Claim Is Denied
It is up to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company to review your injury and decide whether it is compensable. When a claim is denied, this indicates that the insurer does not believe your injury is related to the work you perform, and therefore not covered by workers’ compensation.
You have the right to challenge a denied workers’ comp claim under the Benefit Review Process administered by the Mediation and Ombudsman Services of Tennessee (MOST). Your employer or the employer’s insurance adjuster may also appeal a decision in your favor.
You Disagree with the Benefits Award
You may be awarded benefits but have a dispute about medical treatment (including future medical benefits), and/or disability benefits. These issues are taken up under the Benefit Review Process.
A worker determined to be permanently disabled is given an impairment rating that, combined with vocational factors, may result in a permanent disability award. A Benefit Review Conference is held to make the final determination of that award.
You Are Misclassified as a Contractor
Employers sometimes try to avoid paying benefits, including workers’ compensation, by claiming that a worker is an independent contractor, and not an employee. This is a violation of the law that can carry serious penalties. In addition to contacting a workers’ compensation lawyer about a misclassification issue, you can also submit a tip to state investigators.
You Were Fired After Reporting a Work Injury
It is illegal for your employer to fire you for reporting a work injury. Wrongful termination cases are a matter of employment law. If you were fired and believe it was for reporting a work injury, please speak with one of our employment lawyers.
You Were Injured by a Third Party
Sometimes, work injuries are caused by a third party, such as a subcontractor on a construction site, defective machinery, or a car accident that occurred while driving a company vehicle. Third-party liability in a work injury can result in a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party, plus a workers’ compensation claim.
The Mediation Process
Tennessee workers’ compensation disputes over compensability, medical treatment, and disability benefits are handled in mediation. Before you are able to argue your case before the workers’ compensation court, you must undergo mediation. Since the insurance company will have an attorney present for mediation, it is strongly recommended that you also have an attorney.
Mediation is conducted with the help of a Mediation Specialist from the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. This individual listens to both sides of the case and tries to work out a reasonable agreement between the parties.
If mediation is successful, the case is transferred to the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims (CWCC) and the terms of the agreement are written in a settlement agreement that a judge must approve in order to become a legally binding document. If mediation is unsuccessful, you are then able to request a hearing with the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims, and a judge will issue a decision in the case.
Morristown Workers Compensation Lawyers: Protecting East Tennessee Workers Since 1960
A workplace injury can be devastating for you and your family. With your ability to provide on the line, you need a law firm with a proven track record of standing up for injured workers.
The Terry Law Firm is one of East Tennessee’s most distinguished personal injury law firms. For six decades, we have provided heartfelt advocacy and client-centered service that gets results. Few law firms offer our combination of top-quality legal representation and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. We take the time to truly understand each client’s situation in order to provide a comprehensive strategic plan.
Many factors can affect a workplace injury claim. Regardless of the circumstances, though, our goal is the same: to fight for the full amount of compensation you are owed.
The first consultation is always free at The Terry Law Firm. Please call us at (423) 586-5800 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary case review.