If you’re a Knoxville employee who has been injured as a result of a Knoxville workplace injury, you need to understand how Tennessee’s workers’ compensation system can compensate you for your injuries. The workers’ compensation law affects your ability to sue your employer, so workers’ compensation may be your only financial recourse.
What is workers’ compensation?
The Tennessee workers’ compensation system is intended to offer workers compensation for workplace injuries without having to resort to expensive, time-consuming court proceedings. In exchange for a faster, more certain payout, workers lose the ability to sue their employer for workplace injuries in most cases.
What should I do if I’m injured on the job?
If you or a co-worker is injured on the job, your first priority should be getting the injured person to the nearest emergency room. After getting medical attention, you should report your injury to your supervisor. In any event, it is inadvisable to wait longer than thirty days to report your injuries. Waiting can result in difficulty with your claim. Take too long to report your claim and your financial recovery will be slowed down significantly.
You will be given a choice of doctors willing to treat under workers’ compensation. Not all doctors work with workers’ compensation.
Can I be fired for reporting a workplace injury?
If you believe you were fired for reporting a workplace injury, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights. Under the law, employers are not permitted to fire an employee for reporting a workplace injury.
What types of injuries are covered by workers’ compensation?
You may receive compensation from workers’ compensation only if your injuries are “compensable injuries.” Compensable injuries are injuries that the authorized treating physician determines are work-related injuries. If the authorized treating physician determines that you do not have a work-related injury, you will not receive compensation for your injuries without following the proper procedure to appeal that decision.
What kind of compensation will workers’ compensation pay for my compensable injury?
Once the authorized treating physician finds that you have a work-related injury, you may receive medical treatment without cost to you. Medical treatment must be authorized by the treating physician. In some cases, the insurance company may deny the claim. In that case, there are appeal procedures. It is advisable to seek assistance from a Knoxville workers’ compensation attorney at any stage when your claim is denied. You also may be entitled to compensation for travel greater than 15 miles.
Temporary disability benefits also may be available in cases when the authorized treating physician recommends that the employee not return to work as a result of the injury. These benefits compensate a Knoxville employee for wages lost as a result of the injury. Temporary disability benefits pay for lost wages beginning on the eighth day that the worker has been disabled. Benefits may be paid back to the first day of disability if the inability to work lasts at least 14 days.
Temporary disability benefits typically equal 2/3 of the worker’s average wages during the prior year. Partial disability benefits may be available for workers who can work but are unable to earn as much as they earned previously due to their workplace injury.
Can I work while I’m receiving workers’ compensation benefits?
You must follow your physician’s instructions carefully or you may jeopardize your benefits. You should not work if your physician has instructed you not to work. If your physician authorizes you to work but restricts the type of work or the number of hours you’re permitted to work, follow those instructions to the letter.
Who pays my benefits?
Benefits are not paid by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Instead, they are paid by the insurance company or your employer.
Can I sue my employer for my injuries?
Generally, you cannot sue your employer for workplace injuries; workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy when you’re hurt on the job in most cases. But if your employer is exempt from the workers’ compensation requirement, you may be able to sue your employer in court for your injuries. Also, if you are injured as a result of a third party’s actions, you may be able to sue that person for your injuries. For instance, if you are making a delivery to a grocery store and another vendor hits you with his truck, you will not be able to sue your employer for your injuries in most cases. But you may be able to sue the other vendor for your injuries.
You also may have a right to sue your employer if you are injured as a result of your employer’s intentional, reckless or illegal actions.
I was injured on the job and my claim has been denied. What should I do?
If you have been injured on the job in or near Knoxville, Tennessee, you would be well-advised to consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process of claiming workers’ compensation benefits. A Knoxville attorney may be able to help you maximize your benefits and get them quicker than if you were to make the claim yourself.