Tennessee Workers’ Compensation

Workers Compensation Attorney in Bristol, TN

Benefits Questions

What benefits am I entitled to?

If you have suffered a compensable job-related injury, you are entitled to receive Disability Benefits, Medical Benefits, Death Benefits, and Permanent Disability Benefits.

What are disability benefits?

Disability benefits are payments made to you at least bimonthly by your employer or your employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier if your authorized treatment doctor determines you are unable to work as a result of your job-related injury.

How much will I be paid for disability benefits and for how long?

You will be paid 2/3 of your average salary over the 52 weeks prior to the injury. The payments will begin after you have been off work for seven days. During this interim, you may use vacation time to supplement your income, but are not required to. Payments will continue as long as your authorized treating doctor believes you are unable to work or until you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), as long as you comply with the doctor’s recommendations for treatments. If you stop recommended treatments, your benefits may be stopped until you resume treatment.

What if I have been sent back to work on light duty, but my employer cannot provide light duty?

The authorized treatment doctor will give you specific guidelines about what constitutes light duty in terms of your injury. If your employer cannot provide light duty fitting that description, then you will remain off work at the same level of compensation as before.

What if I have been sent back to work on light duty, but earn less on light duty than I did before?

You are entitled to disability benefits whenever your work-related injury leads to a decrease in your income. If your employer pays you less on light duty, you are entitled to receive 2/3 of the difference between light duty and full duty pay as workers’ compensation.

Example: If
you earn $400 / week on full duty, but only $300 / week on light duty, you are entitled to 2/3 of the difference, $100, or $66.66 / week in workers’ compensation.

What medical benefits can I expect?

Workers’ Compensation covers the expenses of all treatment by your authorized treatment doctor, and any treatment by specialists recommended by your authorized treatment doctor. Medical treatments extend as long as recommended by your authorized treatment doctor. Mileage reimbursement may also be allowed if you must travel more than 15 miles each way to receive treatment.

Am I entitled to benefits if my provider dies as a result of a work-related injury, illness, or condition?

As a survivor, you are entitled to receive benefits, and you are entitled to a reimbursement of burial expenses up to seven thousand, five hundred dollars ($7,500). If there are no dependents, $20,000 will be paid to the estate of the deceased.

Does a heart attack or stroke count as a work-related injury?

If the heart attack or stroke was suffered while working, and can be shown to be a result of work-related activities, it may entitle the employee to workers’ compensation benefits. In order to make a case for this, the event must be represented in the proper fashion. A worker’s compensation lawyer can help you phrase your claim in the proper terms. You will also want to write down an account of the event as soon as you are able.

Workers’ Comp: Questions & Answers

  • What should I do if I’m injured on the job?
  • What is Maximum Medical Improvement and how will it affect my return to work?
  • How can a lawyer help my claim?
  • Are you a driver for Covenant Transport or U.S. Express?

Reading through all these questions and answers, you can begin to appreciate how complex filing a workers’ compensation claim can be, but that’s only the very surface of the law. If these are your specific questions, the answers are abbreviated for the web page, and only apply to most cases, not necessarily to your case. To make your claim successful, you need someone who knows the full measure of the law.

Contact our workers compensation lawyer, Michael Large, Esquire. Proudly serving Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport, Tennessee and surrounding areas.

Free Initial Consultation

Evening & Weekend, Appointments Available

Tennessee Workers’ Compensation:

Injury Questions

What should I do if I’m injured on the job?

First, make sure you get appropriate medical attention right away. Whenever possible, notify your employer immediately about your on the job injury. Official notification of your work injury is required within 30 days. Make this official notification in writing, dated, and keep a copy signed by your supervisor for your own records.

Failure to report your on the job injury can lead to delay or denial of benefits. Reporting your work injury immediately whenever possible and following up with a written statement soon after fulfills your legal responsibility and helps your employer help you get treatment.

What counts as a job-related injury?

Generally, any job related injury that occurred while you are at work, including gradual injuries and aggravation of pre-existing conditions by factors at your workplace. Workers’ Compensation covers you from the moment you enter the job site to the moment you leave. This may include heart attacks and strokes that occur as a result of job-related activity.

What will my employer do once notified of my on the job accident?

Once notified of your work accident, your employer will file paperwork with the State of Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Workers’ Compensation Division. Then your employer will offer you a panel of at least three doctors from which you can choose one to become your “authorized treating doctor.” If your work injury is to your back, the panel must include a chiropractor. Once you have selected a doctor, you and your employer are required to sign a form certifying your agreement on the choice. If your employer refuses to give you a list of three doctors, you should call the Workers’ Compensation Insurance company. If your employer still refuses, contact our office in Bristol.

Your authorized treating doctor will assess your work injury, recommend a course of treatment which may include recommendations for alterations of your work load during treatment, and determine your expected Maximum Medical Improvement.

What if the doctor recommends a light or restricted work load?

If your doctor recommends a return to work with “light” or “restricted” work load, and your employer can provide APPROPRIATE work, you must return to work. If your employer cannot provide you with work falling within your doctor’s restrictions, you may qualify for temporary disability benefits.

What if I do not agree with the findings of the Authorized Treating Doctor?

If you wish, you can ask for a second opinion, but your employer, their insurance company, and their doctor are not required to give one. Furthermore, if you seek a second opinion from another doctor, they are neither required to pay for the second doctor nor are they required to abide by the second doctor’s recommendation.

Also, this is the time to begin consultation with an on the job accident lawyer if you have not done so already.

Is there any value in getting a second opinion if my employer does not have to honor that opinion?

Yes. Obviously, if you need treatment, it’s best to get it, rather than languishing untreated, which can cause your injury or illness to worsen. Also, getting a second opinion can be useful when seeking mediation in disputes with your employer, and if your case goes to trial, a second opinion could be crucial. In any case, the sooner you receive a second opinion, the better. Also, be sure to consult with a lawyer before selecting the doctor you consult for the second opinion. Some doctors are more likely to defer to insurance companies or employers, whereas others are more concerned about your well-being. An experienced workers compensation attorney like Michael E. Large has worked with them all and knows which is which.

Workers’ Comp: Questions

Permanent Disability Questions

What is Maximum Medical Improvement and how will it affect my return to work?

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is a worker’s compensation term describing the best your doctors expect your condition to get following your injury and full course of treatment. You might be lucky enough to make a full recovery and be able to put the entire injury episode behind you. If you are not so fortunate, you may have either Permanent Partial Disability or Permanent Total Disability, and you will receive a permanent disability award.

When do my workers’ compensation benefits stop?

Your workers compensation benefits will stop when:

  • You are released by your authorized treatment doctor to return to work.
  • If you refuse to comply with any reasonable request for medical examination or treatment, benefits will be stopped until you resume treatment.
  • If your employer or their insurance carrier believes they have been making payments in error, they may stop payments, but must file a Notice of Controversy.
  • When you have reached MMI and one of the following occurs:
    • You accept or reject a job from your employer at or above your former pay scale.
    • You, your employer, and the insurance company agree to waive the holding of a benefit review
    • Or, a benefit review conference is held and a report is filed.

Can I receive a permanent disability award even if I am able to return to work?

Yes. Permanent disability awards are based on your disability, not on your ability or inability to work. The amount of your award will be based on the extent of your disability or impairment, your age, and your job duties at the time of your injury. The benefit can range from one dollar to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the evaluation of your permanent impairment by the treating doctor.

Can I be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?

No. Although Tennessee law allows firings for many reasons, you may not be fired simply for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you are unable to fulfill the duties of your previous position due to disability, and your employer cannot supply you with work consistent with the recommendations of your doctor’s MMI appraisal, however, your employer is under no obligation to maintain your employment.

Can I have the amount of my partial disability award reconsidered?

Under certain circumstances, your award may be reconsidered. If, after having returned to work, you are laid off or lose your job, your award may be reconsidered if you, through no fault of your own, lose your job within the length of time scheduled for recovery from injury. It will not be reconsidered if you quit your job or were fired for cause.

Do I have to choose between workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits?

No. Under many circumstances, you can receive both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. For details on applying for Social Security, consult our Social Security pages.

Questions and Answers about On the Job Accidents

How can a lawyer help my case?

A Workers Compensation Attorney brings hard-won experience from all the workers’ compensation claims he or she has handled before. On the Job Accident Attorney, Michael Large, Esquire has been handling workers’ compensation claims for over thirty years and can stand on an equal footing with any lawyers your employer and the insurance company can employ.

Do I need a lawyer to file a workers’ compensation claim?

No, but if you do not consult a lawyer you risk making grave mistakes in handling your case. In the case of a permanent disability, those mistakes can have repercussions on you and your family for the rest of your lives. If your injury or illness is serious, especially if it affects your arms, legs, neck, or back-places where injuries can both drastically impact your earning potential and become worse with time-you should not go forward with your case until you have consulted a lawyer.

What could go wrong with my claim if I represent myself?

Workers’ compensation law is complicated, and there are any number of things that could cause you to lose your benefits or reduce the benefits you receive, including:

  • Miscommunication between the doctor and the insurance company
  • Insurance company paying less than you deserve
  • Selecting the wrong doctor from those offered by your employer
  • An incorrect appraisal of your disability by the authorized treating doctor
  • Accepting a settlement that will prevent receipt of additional money in case of a future job
  • Accepting a settlement that can decrease your eligibility for Social
    Security benefits.

But can I afford a lawyer?

You can definitely afford to come in and talk with me for a free initial consultation.

And our fees will only come out of your settlement. That’s right: we only get paid if you do. We will not charge more than 20% of your settlement, and the odds are very good that we can get you more than 20% more than you could get yourself.

Tennessee law requires that we hold you responsible for the expenses required to process your case, but we will reduce this burden as much as possible.

When you consider all the variables of your case and the skilled lawyers and adjusters who will be working against you, the question is “Can you afford to represent yourself?”

How much is my claim worth?

This is impossible to say. How much is your hand worth? What price can you put on never being able to bend down to kiss your son or daughter on the head? What is the value of the daily enjoyment and satisfaction you received from a job to which you can never return? These questions have no easy answers, and though the doctors on the list your employer provides will be all to eager to try, you should definitely consult someone with a different perspective-a lawyer who is looking out for you.

Can I sue my employer instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim?

Generally not. The workers’ compensation system was set up with the express purpose of mediating between employers and employees and preventing most lawsuits for workplace injuries. By providing benefits without asking who was at fault for the accident, the system ostensibly protects both employers and employees. Employers pay for workers’ compensation insurance that is required to meet certain care thresholds and in return are protected from defending personal injury claims brought by injured employees.

How long do I have to file my claim?

Generally, if you do not file within a year of the incident or of learning of your disability, you cannot collect Workers’ Compensation benefits. Usually, though, other circumstances will prevent you from waiting that long. If you are suffering pain from your injury, or having difficulty performing any of your job duties, or are afraid that a minor injury may grow worse, contact us today at 423-968-4969.