Because workplace accidents can occur in a variety of industries and can cause serious financial strain on an injured worker, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
If you were harmed performing your job’s regular duties, this guide can help answer some questions you may have about filing a workers’ compensation claim.
If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied or you need to know more about the benefits you may be entitled, contact our Knoxville law firm for a free, no obligation consultation.
What Should I Do If I am Injured at Work?
The first thing you should do if you are injured or discover a work-related illness is notify your employer.
In Tennessee, you only have 15 days to report any injury or illness you may have acquired through your employment. Reporting your injury as soon as possible might also speed up the handling of your claim.
Failing to report your injury or illness within this period may result in your claim being denied and could prohibit you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Although you can inform your employer of your injury or illness either orally or in writing, it is highly recommended that you do so in writing. This allows you to clearly state the conditions of your injury or illness and establishes a timeline that can be traced if there is a dispute with your claim.
Once you have reported your injury, your employer must complete Tennessee's Employer’s First Report of Work Injury or Illness (Form C-20) within one day of become aware of your condition.
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer is also required to complete the indicated sections of this form within 15 days after being informed of your injury or illness.
Within this time, the insurer will either decide to approve or deny your claim. It will also evaluate your medical records, wages and job duties to determine the amount of compensation you are owed for medical expenses and possible lost wages.
If the insurer approves your claim, you should be promptly provided the benefits you are entitled.
What Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Under Tennessee law, you are provided compensation for any injury or harmful medical condition that occurs while you are performing a job-related duty. This can include :
- Debilitating injuries, like back, neck or head injuries
- Diseases, such as heart disease, mesothelioma, lung cancer or hypertension
- Mental conditions, such as traumatic stress
- Cumulative trauma, which can result in hearing loss or carpal tunnel syndrome
Since workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, you are not required to prove that your injury or illness was caused by your employer’s negligence.
You must only show that your condition was acquired while performing the duties of your job during your assigned working hours.
When you are filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you should clearly detail your injury or illness.
Do not downplay your injury or neglect to mention a symptom you are experiencing. This could prevent you from recovering the benefits you need and may cause serious future financial and medical complications.
How Can I be Compensated for My Injury or Illness?
Workers’ compensation works as a relief system that provides financial benefits for any medical expenses related to your work-acquired injury or illness.
It may also provide compensation for lost wages if your condition required you to miss more than five days of work.
There are several types of benefits you may be able to qualify for through a workers’ compensation claim.
However, the benefits you receive are specific to you condition and depend entirely on the severity of your injury and how it has limited your ability to work.
If you are unsure about the benefits you may qualify for, or were provided benefits that do not adequately compensate your injury, contact our workers’ compensation attorneys. We can discuss your claim to determine the types of benefits that accurately reflect your injury and may be able to help you refile a claim.
Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against any employee who rightfully files a workers’ compensation claim.
Any form of retaliation, including termination, during the claims process is illegal and can result in harsh penalties for an employer who neglects to follow this law.
Although it is illegal to fire an employee during a workers’ compensation dispute, it does not mean your job is completely secured.
Your employer has the right to keep your position open until you are able to return to work. If your injury or illness prevents you from performing your job’s regular duties, you may not be allowed to return to work.
Are All Employers Required to Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Tennessee requires certain employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, as detailed in the Tennessee Workers Compensation Act.
The only employers that are legally obligated to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the state are:
- All employers in the construction industry that have one or more employees, unless they are exempt
- Every employer in Tennessee that has five or more employees, including any family members, part-time employees and corporate officers that work for the employer
- Employers in the coal mining industry if they have one employee
If your employer meets these qualifications but does not have workers’ compensation insurance, contact our attorneys immediately.
How Long Do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Injured workers in Tennessee have one year to file a workers’ compensation claim. Because of this strict deadline, you must work quickly to secure your claim.
The statute of limitations begins the day of the accident that caused your injury, or when you knew or should have reasonably known of your work-related illness.
If the symptoms related to your injury or illness were hidden or delayed, the one-year deadline may begin on the date in which you first discovered it.
A worker who is incapacitated because of a physical or mental job-related condition has one-year period to file a claim that does not begin until the condition ends.
In the case of physical or mental job-related incapacities, the one-year period will not start until the condition ceases.
Minors who are injured but are under the age of 18 have one year from the date they turn 18 years old to file a workers’ compensation claim.
What If I am Not Receiving the Benefits I Deserve?
Unfortunately, many workers are often denied the benefits they deserve or are provided too little compensation that does not match the costs of their medical expenses or lost wages.
If your workers’ compensation claim was approved and you have not received the benefits you are entitled, you should immediately contact our attorneys for legal help.
We are experienced in handling uncooperative insurers and will be able to assist you in recovering the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Our attorneys will work to support your claim and build a case to prove your injury or illness requires a higher level of compensation.
Contact Greg Coleman Law’s Attorneys Today
If you have been injured in a work-related accident and have any questions or concerns about filing a workers’ compensation claim, contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.
We have helped numerous employees recover the benefits they rightfully deserved to treat their work-related injury and compensation for lost wages.
Our Knoxville injury lawyers only work on a contingency fee basis, which means we will not charge you any fees unless we help you recover the compensation you deserve.