The Lawyers of Brown and Roberto have decades of experience as Knoxville Workers’ Compensation Lawyers. We have taken multiple cases to the Tennessee Supreme Court and won.
Our fees for Workers’ Compensation cases are contingency based. In other words, we do not charge unless we recover money for you. That arrangement gives our Knoxville Workers’ Compensation attorneys every incentive to get the most for you.
Here are the things you need to know about Tennessee’s Workers’ Compensation laws:
- Why is Maximum Medical Improvement so important? When you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (sometimes known as “MMI”), your doctor has determined that you are no longer improving. Your claim then moves to the final stage in which all temporary disability checks stop. You will get an impairment rating and your attorney can then place a value on your claim.
- After reaching Maximum Medical Improvement, how long will it take my case to settle? This really depends on the other side. Your attorney cannot force the other side to be reasonable or to be quick. The best thing your attorney can do if the other side is slow to negotiate is to push the claim towards mediation. Mediation is required by state law before your case goes to court. After that, if the case must go to trial because the other side is not negotiating, you have experienced Knoxville Workers’ Compensation lawyers in the trial attorneys at Brown and Roberto.
- Do not pick a doctor under Workers’ Comp. without first consulting an attorney. Once you pick a doctor, you are largely stuck with that doctor and all other rights have been waived;
- Your attorney cannot direct specific medical care for you; your Workers’ Comp. doctor must make the referral. Your Workers’ Comp. doctor is the one that writes referrals for treatment and diagnosis. If you feel the doctor should do more to address your pain, for example, or you believe that you need an MRI, or some other body part needs examination, you need to address this with your Workers’ Comp. doctor. As discussed below, make sure your doctor is documenting your complaints in his or her records;
- Make sure that you are documenting every injury you have with Workers’ Comp. Quite often the Workers’ Comp. insurance company will deny certain treatment by stating, “You never told us that was hurting too.” You should document every injury and every complaint in writing as soon you feel there is an injury to that body part. Make sure that whoever is recording your complaints is doing so accurately whether that is the insurance adjuster, nurse case manager, Workers’ Comp. doctor, or anyone.
- Do not quit or resign from your job or do anything that may get you terminated from employment. This can reduce or eliminate your rights to compensation including temporary payments before you reach MMI and some money at the end of your claim. It does not hurt your rights to benefits if the employer ends your employment because they admit that they cannot accommodate your work restrictions. In fact, if your employer admits that they cannot accommodate your work restrictions, that my raise the value of your claim;
- My doctor gave me work restrictions; must I go back to work? If the Workers’ Comp. doctor provides that you may work under restricted or unrestricted duty, you must contact your employer immediately and ask them if they have work for you that is consistent with the doctor’s instructions:
- It is best to document in written correspondence this conversation with your employer;
- If you disagree with your work restrictions, then take that up with your doctor. Your attorney cannot take you off of work. If you are in a disagreement with your doctor about whether you can work, you may be without any payments until the disagreement is resolved.
- Do not miss any appointments with your Workers’ Comp. doctor. Your case can be suspended or dismissed entirely for that reason. It is not fair, but it is the law.
- What happens to my health insurance while on Workers’ Comp. Leave: You may lose your Employer provided health insurance while out on Workers’ Comp. This is legal under Tennessee law. It happens because you are being paid by an insurance company and not directly by your employer. During this time, your employer stops making contributions to your health insurance.
- How long until I get my medical treatment or Workers’ Comp. checks? This is determined by the Workers’ Comp. insurance and the Court system. Your benefits are furnished fastest if the insurance company provides them voluntarily. If legal action is required, the Court system can take months before a judge issues a ruling.
- Do not allow anyone from Workers’ Comp. inside your Doctors’ appointment. Often the Insurance Company will have a Nurse Case Manager. Do not allow this person to attend your appointments. Sometimes this person is only there to try to convince the doctor to end your benefits.
- The Workers’ Comp. Insurance Nurse is not your friend. Limit your discussions with the Comp. Nurse as much as possible to simply the scheduling of appointments. Do not talk about injuries that you have had in the past to this person or they may use that as an excuse to deny you treatment.
- Should I apply for unemployment during my Workers’ Comp. claim? Generally, no. If you are granted unemployment and Workers’ Comp. is held responsible for payments during that same period, you may have to pay your unemployment back.
- Should I use leave time during my Workers’ Comp. claim? Generally, no. If you use leave time and Workers’ Comp. is held responsible for payments during that same period, you may have to pay your leave back. In some cases, this can leave you owing money instead of getting money from your claim.
- Now that I am on Workers’ Comp. my Employer can’t terminate me, can they? There is no specific job protection under the Workers’ Comp. law. Instead, if you are terminated because the employer cannot work you within your restrictions or for reasons related to your claim, you may be entitled to additional Workers’ Comp. money. It is important to avoid being terminated “for cause” (meaning due to your own fault). A termination “for cause” may end some of your benefits. You may have a wrongful termination case if your Employer indicates that they are terminating you because you applied for Workers’ Comp. benefits. You will need direct proof of this.
- My Employer wants to place me on Family Medical Leave (FMLA), what should I do? They have the right to request that you go on FMLA. You should fill out the forms.
- All the employees got a raise after my injury occurred, do I get more Workers’ Comp. money for that? No. Your wages for the purpose of Workers’ Comp. benefits is based upon the wages you received in the 52 weeks prior to injury.
- What will I get for pain and suffering? You get paid under Workers’ Comp. for the extent to which the injury disables you from work in what is known as an “impairment rating.” If the pain is disabling, it may add to your case. You do not get a separate amount for pain and suffering. Your Workers’ Comp. doctor determines your impairment rating.
- How much am I going to get? The general rule is the impairment rating that the doctor gives you multiplied by 450 weeks of Workers’ Comp. Pay. So, if you receive a low impairment of 1%, you get 4.5 weeks of Workers’ Comp. Pay. You may get more than that if the Employer does not return you to work. There is wiggle room for the attorney to add more value to your claim than this formula if your impairment rating is 10% or greater. Our Knoxville Workers’ Compensation attorneys spot cases to challenge to get up to that 10% rating.
- Why am I getting less money on Workers’ Comp. each week than I got paid before my injury? By law, Workers’ Comp. pays 66.2/3% of your average weekly wage. This should be non-taxable. Because income tax is not withheld and Medicare and Social Security Taxes are not taken out, it should get close to what you were making before injury.
- My employer or my boss should have known someone would get injured from that, do I get more? The good and bad thing about Workers’ Comp. is that you don’t have to prove negligence to have a case. It is usually as simple as having got injured at work while performing a work function. You may be angry that someone else’s negligence or stupidity caused your injury. If you feel that the accident was preventable, you can contact OSHA about your complaints. Do not expect your attorney to be able to do anything about your employer’s negligence; it is not a factor in Workers’ Comp.
- What if I can’t work again? In order for the Court to find that you cannot ever work again, you must have very severe restrictions from a doctor and testimony from a vocational expert that there are no jobs that you could perform. If you have all of that, you may receive weekly Workers’ Comp. benefits until the age of full social security retirement. If you cannot perform your previous job, there is a range of awards that you may receive based upon your impairment rating, age, and education.
- What is a Functional Capacity Exam or “FCE” and what do I do? Some doctors will send you for an FCE. It is used to determine your permanent work restrictions. Some doctors even use it to determine your final impairment rating. It is important to go and try to do things asked of you.
If you have questions about your Workers’ Compensation claim call one of our Knoxville Workers’ Compensation lawyers today for a free consultation at (865) 691-2777.