How to File a Workers' Compensation Claim in Chattanooga, TN
Workers’ compensation is an insurance system used by most states to provide injured workers with wage and medical benefits. Employees who are covered by workers’ compensation are prohibited from filing civil claims against employers who provide workers’ compensation insurance. The employers’ workers’ comp policy will provide benefits including payments for medical care and a percentage of the workers’ wages.
Unfortunately, for many injured workers, obtaining these benefits is not always easy. If you are unfamiliar with the worker’s compensation claims process, or if your employer or the insurance company decides to deny your claim, you may need the assistance of an experienced injury attorney to pursue the benefits you need and deserve.
The dedicated Chattanooga workers’ compensation lawyers at The Davis Firm, LLC, are available to review your claim for free and answer any questions you may have about the workers’ comp claims process. Call (423) 756-3591 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
The Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is the state agency responsible for administering workers’ compensation laws. It offers A Beginner’s Guide to TN Workers’ Compensation to help workers better understand the system.
When you are injured on the job, you must report your injury to your employer and then select your authorized treating physician from a list of three possible doctors provided by your employer.
When the treating physician determines that an injury was work-related, the victim can be entitled to benefits for medical treatment, travel expenses, and wage replacement or temporary disability benefits.
Although this seems like an easy, straightforward process, it can be quite complicated. If you have been hurt on the job, you should speak with a knowledgeable Chattanooga workers’ compensation lawyer about what to expect.
Steps for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim
When you are involved in any kind of accident at work, be sure to report the incident and your injury to your employer as soon as possible. You generally must report your injury within 15 days, and it is recommended that you put your report in writing so you can keep a copy for your records.
The employer must complete a Tennessee Employer’s First Report of Work Injury or Illness form, also known as a Form C-20, within one day of your report being filed. The employer must complete the form even when there is a belief that injuries were not work-related, and the workers’ compensation insurance company must respond to the claim within 15 days.
Tips for Obtaining Workers’ Comp Benefits
- Take pictures of your injuries before they have time to heal, and make notes of what you remember about the accident while it is fresh in your mind.
- If other people saw your accident on the job occur, make sure you have their names and phone numbers in case you need witness testimony.
- You can protect your rights by filing a Petition for Benefit Determination (PBD) form. Make sure that you save all receipts relating to your medical care, especially travel expenses such as gas to get to and from doctor appointments. Tennessee gives a person one year from the date the injury occurred, or the date the last temporary disability benefits were paid or medical benefits were provided for the injury (whichever is later), to file a PBD form.
- It is critical that you follow a physician’s recommended steps as part of your treatment. Many workers’ compensation claims end up being denied after people do not follow their doctor’s orders.
What to Do If Your Claim Was Denied
If your workers’ compensation benefits are denied, you will receive a Form C-23 from the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. This form will list the date compensation was denied, the date the person making the claim was notified of the denial, and the basis for the denial. You have the right to appeal a denial of your workers’ compensation claim.
When there is a dispute over medical treatment or temporary disability benefits, the case may be referred to mediation, in which a neutral party from the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation tries to help the two parties reach an agreement. When mediation is unsuccessful, the case may be transferred to the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims and a hearing may be requested.
If the dispute concerns permanent disability benefits after a worker has reached a condition of maximum medical improvement (MMI), the case can also be referred to mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, the case can again be transferred to the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims and result in a possible hearing.
When a worker disagrees with a judge’s decision after a hearing, he or she has 30 days to file an appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. The original workers’ compensation hearing decision will be reviewed by a three-judge panel and may be affirmed or modified. A limited number of cases may be appealed directly to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Appealing a denied claim is a complex and technical process. You should not try to handle an appeal on your own. Talk to our knowledgeable Tennessee workers’ compensation attorneys about your options, and learn how we can help you better navigate the system.
Your Rights Beyond Workers’ Compensation
Keep in mind that not all workplace injuries are the fault of employers. Workers’ compensation is designed to cover injured employees regardless of fault, but injuries that are the result of another party’s negligence may mean that a third party can be held liable for damages in a civil claim.
For example, if you are seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another negligent motorist while on the job, that other driver could be liable for damages in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. You will want to have an experienced attorney conduct an independent investigation of your accident so important evidence can be preserved and all possible liable parties can be identified and held accountable.
How Our Law Firm Can Help After A Workplace Accident
If you were hurt on the job in Chattanooga or a surrounding area of Tennessee, workers’ compensation coverage should be provided to you to help you get treatment and support yourself and your family during your recovery. The Davis Firm, LLC Chattanooga personal injury lawyers will be there for you every step of the way. Our firm is committed to protecting the rights of injured workers in Chattanooga.
Our legal team is standing by to discuss your case when you call (423) 756-3591 or contact us to set up a free consultation.