Articles Posted in Workers Compensation

Pursuant to TN law a worker must report their on the job injury within 30 days. This requirement is met if the employer is actually aware of the injury. In other words, if you fall off a roof and your employer takes you to the hospital the notice requirement is obviously satisfied.

The most common problems that we see with the reporting requirement involve repetitive motion injuries and injuries that people do not realize are serious. Repetitive motion injuries involve things like carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive back injuries or shoulder injuries. The obvious difficulty with reporting these work injuries is they generally develop over time. The law recognizes this and has given some room on the reporting requirement. Specifically, the employee should report the injury when a reasonable person knows there is a problem. Commonly this begins when a person seeks medical treatment for the work injury and the doctor discovers the cause of the problem.

As to injuries that seem temporary the law is similar. We see this a lot when someone pulls their back and believe it is simply a sore muscle. Unfortunately, when that injury doesn’t go away they often find it can be something more serious like a herniated disk. Again, as soon as you believe you may have a work injury report it. If you get better then it is no big deal, however, if you have a permanent injury that you do not report you may loose your right to bring the case.
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Under the Tennessee Workers Compensation Act an employees recovery for a work injury is limited to 1.5 times their impairment rating if the employee returns to their pre-injury employer at the same rate of pay. I will admit that I do have mixed feelings with regard to this law. I do appreciate the fact that it encourages an employer to rehire the injured employee. Unfortuanlty, the compensation available under the comp act is already so limited it leaves an employee with such a nominal monetary award for a permenant injury that it is simply not equitable.

The law also has a safety provision that allows the employee to reopen the case if they loose their job within a certain period of time. For example, if a person has a shoulder or back injury and their compensation is capped becuase they return to work they may reopen the case if they loose the job within 400 weeks of the return to work date. Well the legislature just enacted an exception to this reconsideration right.

Specfically, if the employer reduces the injured employee’s pay that employee may not reopen the case if it is the result of an economic downturn. To ensure that this is truly a pay reduction because of an economic downtown and not a punishment for filing a work comp claim the law states that atleast 50% of the employees working for the company must also have ad a pay reductions. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.
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When we get hurt at work, many of us may know that we are entitled to compensation, but there are still many questions such as: how does the process work, how much compensation do I receive, what kind of paperwork do I need to have, and many more. When we are hurt we just would like to know that our injuries will be well taken care of. The best way to do this is by hiring a Tennessee Worker Compensation attorney, but you may think the process is difficult. Here are some tips to help make the process a little easier and to help get you the compensation you deserve.

First, friends and family and even coworkers are a good first place to start when trying to find and hire the best Tennessee Worker Compensation attorney. They may have gone through the process or know someone who has and may be able to offer you a good reference. You may also be able to look in the phone book or contact your Tennessee Bar Association for a good worker compensation attorney for your specific case.

Once you find some possible choices, it is a good idea to do your research. Go online to their website and see how many years they have been working and how much experience they may have with workers comp cases. It may also be helpful to read any articles on their website that deal with worker compensation laws and cases. Finally, it is highly recommend to contact them by phone and ask any questions you may have.

When meeting with the Tennessee worker compensation attorney it is a good idea to notice how easy they are to talk to, how genuine they seem, and how much experience they have in handling cases similar to yours. It is also a good idea to ask for references if they have any available. Finally, it is important to discuss cost and fees if they were to handle your case.

These tips can really help you to handle the best Tennessee Worker Compensation attorney possible. The Worker Compensation attorneys at the Higgins Firm are very experienced in these cases and we care about getting you the compensation you deserve to get your life back in order.
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It has just been reported that the Trane plant in Clarksville, TN will layoff 113 employees. A layoff is never easy but it can be especially difficult during the holiday season. Hopefully, as the economy picks up the company will be able to bring some of these employees back to work.

The employees will receive some help through unemployment benefits. Also, if any of the employees have had a prior workers compensation claim they may be able to reopen the claim and get more money. Specifically, in Tennessee if you have a workers compensation claim the amount of money you receive is often capped if you return to your same employer. However, if you later loose the job through no fault of your own the case can ofter be reopened to get money above the cap. This is known as reconsideration.
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The Smithsonian settled an asbestos lawsuit with a former employee for $233,000 and health insurance after the museum’s worker was diagnosed last year with asbestosis. The employee, Richard Pullman, 54, worked for 28 years at the museum, installing exhibits. This required drilling and sawing interior walls containing asbestos, a risk Pullman and other workers were first made aware of in 2008.

A Smithsonian spokeswoman has said that the settlement is not an admission of guilt, an odd statement given that Mr. Pullman has worked the majority of his life at the National Air and Space Museum and that inhaling asbestos, speaking realistically, the only cause of asbestosis.

Initially, Mr. Pullman was denied a worker’s compensation coverage claim for asbestosis, though he would win on appeal. He is now allowed worker’s compensation for treatment of asbestosis-related injury and benefits if he becomes disabled or dies from the disease.
Continue Reading week a had a workmen’s compensation trial in Nashville, TN. The issue was whether or not my client was an employee or independent contractor. Unfortunately this is an issue that i am seeing more often throughout Tennessee.

The basics of my case involved a worker who was employed as a cleaning lady. She was told by her boss where to be, what to do and how to do it. Her employer had significant control over the working relationship. However, when my client began working for the company they had her sign several papers including a paper that said she was an independent contractor. My client had no idea that by signing this paper she was potentially giving up rights to overtime pay, workers compensation benefits and other employment benefits. Subsequently she fell from a ladder at work and sustained a fractured leg which required extensive surgery. Her benefits were denied under the TN work comp system and she was left with thousands of dollars in medical bills and no pay to support her family. This was all denied because she signed the independent contractor agreement.

Fortunately at trial we were able to prove that just because the employer calls you an “independent contractor” it doesn’t mean that you are one. The law allows the court to view the working relationship as a whole. After doing so in our case the court agreed that my client was an employee and she was able to get all her benefits. It is just unfortunate that she had to go through this entire situation because her employer attempted to escape the work compensation system.
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There are parts of our workers compensation system that I really like and there are parts that I do not like. One benefit that is wonderful when it works correctly is the right to lifetime medical benefits for your workman’s compensation injury. Basically, in Tennessee if you sustain a permanent injury as the result of a work accident you are entitled to medical benefits for that injury for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, the insurance carriers will often deny these benefits by claiming the needed medical treatment is not related to the original injury.

If you had a TN comp injury and now need medical treatment for that injury it is very important that you have good communication with your doctor. The approval of these medical claims will usual rise and fall based upon your doctor’s opinion as to whether the need for treatment is related to the original injury. As such, if you are anticipating future treatment do not wait until the last minute to see your work comp doctor. Be sure to visit when needed and discuss any progression in symptoms and build your relationship. If you are honest and straight forward with your doctor they will usually stand by you if the insurance company turns down your claim. So much if your case will rest in their hands so keep that relationship strong.

It is also important to note that if the workmen compensation insurance company denies the medical benefits and a court finds the denial to be in error then you will be awarded attorney fees. As such, our office is able to take these cases without charging the client. We only get paid if we win the case. Of course, that also means we need to feel good about being able to win a case before we accept them. These cases can be expensive to try and very time consuming so most attorneys want good medical documentation supporting the need for treatment and relating the need to the original comp injury. Without that medical support they are hard to win. So again, do your best to create a strong working relationship with your doctor. It will help you, your lawyer and the Court will have a better understanding of your medical needs.

I have been handling workmans compensation cases for almost 20 years now. One thing I have seen over the years is that workers seem to get less and less for their permanent injuries. The latest attack on these benefits has come in the form of a impairment guideline known as the The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Sixth Edition.

In Tennessee, doctors are required to use this guidelines to establish a percentage of medical impairment for permanent injuries sustained from 2008 forward. This impairment rating is tied directly to the amount of compensation a person receives for a work injury. The higher the impairment the more money will be received. This is very important as that money is to make up for a person loss of income because of their disability. It is used to feed their families, obtain new training and to help survive financially. Unfortunately, the impairment ratings given under the new guidelines is almost always smaller than previous editions. This can costs an injured worker thousands of dollars. Also, with caps that were placed on these awards by our legislature a couple of years ago the amount of compensation for serious work injuries is often tragically low and provides very little security for our workers. Of course, insurance carriers continue to make millions on these insurance polices.

You don’t always need a lawyer in a workers compensation cases but it is always smart to talk to a lawyer before resolving your case. It usually runs about 50/50 on the injured workers I talk to as to whether they need an attorney. If you just aren’t sure or have a question feel free to send me an email or contact me at TN law office. We handle cases across the state.

The TN legislature made an important change to the Tennessee Workman’s Compensation Law. Specifically, compensation is limited in work comp cases if the employee returns to work with the pre-injury employer at the same rate of pay. However, the employee can re-open the case for more money if they lose their job within a certain amount of time from the settlement. To do so, you must file the claim for reconsideration within one year after the loss of employment. Unfortunately, our Court ruled that if the employer sells the business the one year time limit starts to run. This is true even if the employee continues to work for the new employer without any changes. This was very tricky because often employees do not even know a business has been sold or they never consider reopening a case because they are still at work making a good living. We would often have people call our office to reopen a case after a layoff or termination and they would have no idea that the time to file for reconsideration ran long ago because their company had traded hands in the past. Thankfully this problem has now been fixed.

To fix this problem the legislature has enacted the following law:

Reconsideration of a Prior Workers Compensation Claim

With the unfortunate news of more layoffs from another large company, Circuit City, it is important for all Tennessee employees to be informed of potential help they may have in these hard times. One benefit many employees are unaware of is the ability to reopen an old workers compensation claim if you are laid off. As such, if you had a prior workerman compensation claim and you are being terminated due to the economy you may be able to reopen you claim.

If you think this may apply to you, feel free to call our Nashville, TN law office with any questions you may have about TN workers comp claims.

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