Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Tennessee workers experienced 57,500 on-the-job injuries in private industries in 2020, with 35,500 of these injuries causing time away from work, transfers, and job restrictions. These injuries create financial stress as medical bills accumulate in the face of missed workdays.
As Champions for the Injured, the Memphis personal injury attorneys NST Law protect the rights of injured employees and ensure they receive their well-deserved compensation.
Table of Contents
What is workers' compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of no-fault insurance that provides medical treatment and partial wage replacement when employees are injured on the job. It is beneficial to both employers and employees.
- Employees can promptly receive compensation even if the following are true:
- The injury was caused by the employee’s own negligence
- The injury was caused by another employee
- The employer was not negligent
- It protects employers from lawsuits. Injured employees covered by workers’ compensation are not entitled to sue their employers.
The state of Tennessee requires all employers with five or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Construction and coal mining companies must carry workers’ compensation regardless of the number of workers.
Who is eligible for workers’ compensation?
Any Memphis employee who suffers a workplace injury or an occupational illness is covered.
Employee vs. Independent Contractor
Independent contractors are not employees and therefore are not covered by workers’ compensation.
To meet Tennessee’s definition of an independent contractor, a worker must:
- Be free from the control and direction of the employer
- Perform the services outside of the business locations
- Have an independently established business that offers the services performed
Occupational illnesses are diseases that arise “out of and in the course of employment.” To qualify as an occupational illness, the illness must meet the following criteria:
- Caused by exposures in the work environment
- Can be traced back to the employment
- Cannot be traced back to a source outside of employment
- Is incidental to the type of employment
- Originated from a risk connected to employment whether or not the risk was foreseeable
- Connected causally to the working conditions
Occupational illnesses include heart, lung and other conditions that develop over the course of years. In these cases, the most recent employer bears sole liability.
Who is not eligible for workers’ compensation?
Workers are ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits if injuries are caused by any of the following:
- Willful misconduct
- Self-inflicted injury
- Intoxication or illegal drug use
- Willful failure to use safety equipment
- Willful failure to perform a legally required duty
- Voluntary participation in extracurricular activities not required by the job
What types of workplace injuries require legal representation?
Not all workers’ compensation claims require the skills and advocacy of an attorney. In cases of mild injury that don’t result in high medical bills or lost wages, you may consider handling the workers’ compensation claims process on your own. This is especially true if your injury clearly occurred on the job and your employer is cooperative.
Some situations, however, are more complicated. For those, you should enlist the help of a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer.
Any of the following scenarios are best handled by a Memphis personal injury lawyer:
- Your employer or its insurance company has denied your claim.
- Your medical bills exceed your workers’ comp benefits.
- The insurance company doesn’t accept your impairment rating.
- You can’t return to work at your prior capacity due to total or partial permanent disability.
- A third party is liable to some degree for your injury.
- The insurance company has attributed your injury or illness to a preexisting condition.
Any disputed workers’ compensation claims in Memphis will go before a judge in the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims. If your case results in a trial or hearing, you will want to have a workers’ comp attorney by your side.
The Most Common Causes of Workplace Injuries in Tennessee
The highest number of non-fatal occupational injuries statewide occur in the following industries:
- Service occupations
- Production (factory)
- Installation, maintenance and repair
- Construction and extraction
Fatal injuries generally occur during the following activities:
- Violence by persons or animals
- Falls, slips, trips
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments
These types of incidents can cause all types of injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries and disfiguring burns.
The occupations in Tennessee with the highest fatality rates are:
What should I do if I am injured on the job?
Injuries on the job must be reported to your supervisor or human resources department within 15 calendar days of the date of injury or the date you became aware of an illness or condition that accumulated over time.
Your employer should provide you with a panel of three doctors from which you can choose one. If you need emergency treatment before this is possible, workers’ compensation may reimburse this cost if your claim is approved.
Your employer has 15 calendar days to approve or deny your claim. If you disagree with the results, you have up to one year to file a Petition for Benefit Determination with the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
It is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations and abide by all work-related restrictions. Failure to do so can result in loss of benefits.
Benefits Injured Workers Can Receive
Workers’ compensation provides the following benefits to injured workers:
- Medical treatment
- Mileage to and from treatment is covered when treatment is 15 miles or more away from home.
- Temporary disability
- Temporary disability benefits equal two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wages, based on the last 52 weeks. The period of disability must be longer than seven days before these benefits kick in.
- Permanent disability
- The employee can receive permanent disability benefits if they do not fully recover. The treating physician determines when the maximum medical improvement (MMI) has been reached and assigns an impairment rating, which is used to determine the amount of compensation payable under Tennessee’s workers’ compensation law.
- Death benefits
- If a workplace injury results in death, the employer is liable for the decedent’s medical services and burial expenses up to $10,000. In addition, the employer must pay 66 and two-thirds percent of the deceased employee’s average weekly wages to their dependents. If there are no dependents, must pay a $20,000 lump sum to the employee’s estate.
What about damages for pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering damages are not available through workers’ compensation. However, the law does allow employees to sue negligent third parties who contributed to the injury, such as premises owners, motor vehicle operators and equipment manufacturers.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys can investigate the incident and identify third parties who could be liable.
How long does it take to receive benefits?
The state of Tennessee requires benefits to be paid in a timely manner. The insurance company must pay your disability payments to you within 15 days.
How can a lawyer help me with my workers’ compensation claim?
Meeting all the requirements to receive the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve can be daunting. The smallest misstep can cost you your benefits. The workers’ compensation attorneys at NST Law have been fighting for the rights of injured workers for more than 32 years.
Our firm operates on six pillars: compassionate care, accessibility, resourcefulness, trust and transparency, personalized service, and maximized pursuit. Our passionate commitment to these principles has helped us achieve outstanding results for our clients, including the following:
- $970,201.58 verdict against a workers’ compensation carrier who only wanted to pay $18,000.00 at first
- $950,000 for a personal injury at work
- $561,916.90 in a workers’ compensation claim for a traumatic brain injury
If you or your loved one has been hurt at work, we can help you file your initial claim or appeal if your claim was denied.