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Tennessee’s New Court of Workers’ Compensation: Introduction to Procedures Ken Switzer, Chief Workers’ Compensation Judge Penny Shrum, Court Clerk Lisa.

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Presentation on theme: "Tennessee’s New Court of Workers’ Compensation: Introduction to Procedures Ken Switzer, Chief Workers’ Compensation Judge Penny Shrum, Court Clerk Lisa."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tennessee’s New Court of Workers’ Compensation: Introduction to Procedures Ken Switzer, Chief Workers’ Compensation Judge Penny Shrum, Court Clerk Lisa Knott, WC Judge and Moderator

2 The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer Tennessee Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims Penny Shrum, Court Clerk

3 Advice What to wear What to say

4 Judicial Robes?

5 Painting With A Broad Brush

6 Administrative Structure Division of Workers’ Compensation includes: Ombudsman Program Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims Board of Workers’ Compensation Appeals Current programs will continue to operate for existing claims.

7 The Ombudsman Program Will provide education and assistance to any party to a workers’ compensation claim that is not represented by an attorney. Will be staffed by persons trained in Tennessee Workers’ Compensation law and rules of the various programs. An ombudsman is not an attorney, cannot provide legal advice, and cannot sign documents on behalf of a party.

8 Duties of the Ombudsman The ombudsman will have the basic responsibilities of: Advising parties of the basics of workers’ compensation laws and procedures Answering the questions of parties Assisting parties in the completion of forms Acting as a liaison among the parties to ensure communication among parties and efficiency in the administration of claims

9 Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims

10 Gone with the Wind Benefit Review Conference (BRC) Request for Assistance (RFA) Commissioner’s Designee Administrative Review

11 Words that Work Petition for Benefit Determination (PBD) Dispute Certification Notice (DCN) Expedited Hearing Initial Hearing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mediation Interlocutory Order Compensation Order Decision on the Record

12 Flow Charts That Confuse

13 Flow Chart That Educates

14 Petition for Benefit Determination (PBD)

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17 Tells us there is a dispute. Purpose: Not just to toll the statute. Must be served on opposing party.

18 Mediation Requirements A party with authority to settle must attend the mediation. Mediation will be scheduled whenever either party files a Petition for Benefit Determination (PBD) with the Division.

19 Mediation Proceedings After PBD is filed parties must: Promptly exchange all medical records – update within 14 days after receipt of additional records. Employer must file a wage statement w/in 5 days. Division contacts parties to schedule mediation – same as always. Mediation can be in person, telephonically or by video conference.

20 Dispute Certification Notice (DCN) If parties do not settle – mediator prepares and issues Dispute Certification Notice certifying disputed issues for trial – no hearing in Court without DCN. Parties have five days to object to contents of DCN.

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23 Initial Hearings Initial hearing within 30 days after request for hearing is filed. If no request for hearing filed w/in 60 days after DCN submitted to clerk – case placed on dismissal docket and set for show cause hearing. Request for Hearing can be in any format; however, a template will be provided. Catastrophic cases get priority on docket. Clerk will send notice setting initial hearing date and time, identifying the Judge, and specifying items to be completed before the hearing.

24 Catastrophic Injury Paralysis Amputations Traumatic Brain Injury Burns – Second or Third Degree Blindness (total) Deafness (total)

25 Initial Hearings Discovery plan and a scheduling calendar. Division will provide template for Initial Hearing order. Initial hearings will likely be telephonic or by video conference (only under rare circumstances will this be in person). Important: Post Discovery Mediation AND Compensation Hearing Date will be set by this Order.

26 Expedited Hearings Hearing on temporary disability or medical benefits only. Either party may request expedited hearing after case is docketed. Party requesting hearing must provide affidavits to support position. (Note: Medical records allowed by a certification of same: See Rule 16 Discovery 6(b).) Opposing party may provide countervailing evidence w/in 5 days and indicate the need for an evidential hearing. Judge can decide if hearing necessary or enter an Order. Standard: Is the employee likely to prevail on the merit of the claim? Temporary benefit order is interlocutory and may be appealed to WC Appeals Board within seven days.

27 Discovery In General will operate in accordance with rules of Civil Procedure, except: 20 interrogatory limit unless judge gives leave for more Four hour time limit for deposition No answers required until after initial hearing order has been signed No hearing for discovery disputes unless ordered by judge (will be reviewed based on written materials).

28 Time Requirements Table

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30 CWCC Proceedings Medical records and a prehearing statement must be filed with court 10 business days before trial. Hearings will be conducted under the Rules of Civil Procedure & Evidence (Expedited Included).

31 Any compensation order issued by a WC judge shall become final and appealable to the Supreme Court after thirty calendar days unless an appeal is filed with the Board of Appeals. If no appeal is filed, the parties shall have five business days after the order becomes final to comply. If an appeal is filed to Board of Appeals, the decision of the WC judge shall not become final until certified by the Board.

32 Settlements No settlement shall be binding until approved by a WC judge. A fee of $150 shall be due at the time of settlement or final order. Fees may be paid by check or credit card. All settlements shall be approved within three business days of submission and assignment to a judge. T.C.A. § (b) A WC judge may approve a signed settlement agreement upon determining that the employee is receiving substantially the benefits provided by the WC law and/or upon finding that the settlement is in the employee’s best interest. Settlement approvals will be in person but may be conducted telephonically in unusual circumstances.

33 Practical Questions Template for Settlement Orders Mediated Settlement Approvals Murfreesboro Cookeville Non-Mediated Settlement Approvals

34 Example: Knoxville Two days a week Monday morning Thursday afternoon Call In – Schedule Time Each office decision

35 Court Clerk

36 Filing Process for Expedited Hearing Petition for Benefit Determination (local office) Dispute Certification Notice (prepared by mediator) Request For Expedited Hearing Immediately Assign to a Judge Document Filings (medical records and prehearing statements)

37 Filing Process for Non-Expedited Hearing Petition for Benefit Determination (local office) Dispute Certification Notice (prepared by mediator) Request For Hearing Initial Hearing Post Discovery Mediation (local office)

38 Macon Nashville--Metro Center 220 French Landing Dr. Nashville, TN Telephone: Fax: Memphis One Commerce Square 40 South Main St, Suite 500 Telephone: Fax: Cookeville 444-A Neal Street Cookeville, TN 3850 Telephone: Fax: Knoxville 520 Summit Hill, Suite 103 Knoxville, TN Telephone: Fax: Jackson 225 Dr. MLK Drive, 1 st Fl Jackson, TN Telephone: Fax: Murfreesboro 845 Esther Lane Murfreesboro, TN Telephone: Fax: Chattanooga (moving in late Fall) 540 McCallie Ave, Ste W600 Chattanooga, TN Telephone: Fax: Kingsport 1908 Bowater Drive Kingsport, TN Telephone: Fax: Assignment to Judges by Clerk

39 Contact Information Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer Judge Brian Addington Judge Joshua Judge Lisa Knott Judge Pamela Judge Allen Judge Jim Umsted Judge Thomas Wyatt Penny Shrum, Court Ombudsman website: state.tn.us/labor-wfd/wcomp.shtml

40 Evaluation of Process

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42 Questions?


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