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The Laws & Basics of Workers Compensation in Tennessee

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Tennessee is a great state to own and operate a business, but when you have employees, your operational aspects and responsibilities grow. While Tennessee’s workers’ compensation laws have evolved to become more efficient, fair, streamlined, and cost effective for both employees and employers, it’s still important for employers to maintain an understanding of their responsibilities and expectations, should one of their employees suffer a work-related injury or sickness.

Some Basic Workers’ Compensation Facts Employers Should Know:

  1. If an employee gets hurt at work or sick from his or her job, the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Law requires most employers to pay for medical treatment.
  2. Employers must pay if the employee cannot work, but it’s not the same amount that he or she would receive for working.
  3. Employees do not have to pay to get workers’ compensation benefits. Employers are responsible for paying to obtain coverage.
  4. Generally, it doesn’t matter if the accident was the fault of the employee, another worker, the employer, or no one at all.
  5. Following a workplace injury or sickness, employers should immediately notify their insurance carrier or third party administrator (TPA).

Some Employer Responsibilities With a Workplace Injury/Sickness

  1. Employers covered by the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Law must immediately submit all known or reported injuries or illnesses to their insurance carriers unless the employer is qualified and certified as a self-insured employer (click here to learn which employers are covered by the Law). Self-insured employers must either report the claim to their Third Party Administrator (TPA) or internal claims handling program.
  2. Within one (1) day of knowledge of the reported injury, employers must fill out a First Report of Injury (Form C-20) and then file the form with their insurance adjuster, even if the employer feels the claim is not work-related. Insurance adjusters will investigate and deny claims, when appropriate.
  3. Employers/carriers must provide the injured employee a panel of at least three (3) physicians, within the community of the injured employee’s home or workplace (but not from the same practice). Special requirements exist for injuries to the back. Employees must sign, date, and select a physician from the Agreement Between Employer/Employee Choice of Physician Form (Form C-42). Employers/carriers should keep the original form (provide a copy to the employee) to show proof that the employee was offered a choice of physicians. Upon request, the employer must provide a copy to the Division of Workers’ Compensation.
  4. Employers should have the injured employee sign a Medical Waiver and Consent Form (Form C-31). This form allows the employer, insurance carrier, third party administrator, case manager, utilization review agent, and the Division communicate with the treating physician about the treatment options for the injury.
  5. The employer should assist the employee and/or the insurance adjuster in scheduling the initial appointment for medical treatment.
  6. The employer should also inform the employee of the name and telephone number of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier and adjuster.
  7. A Wage Statement (Form C-41) must be submitted to the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster and must provide the injured employee’s wages earned, including gross wages, overtime, bonuses, etc., each week for the fifty-two (52) weeks prior to the injury. If the injured employee has worked for the employer for less than 52 weeks, the statement should show all of the weeks worked and gross wages earned each week. Alternative versions of this form are not allowed, and failure to provide a completed Wage Statement to the insurance adjuster could place the employer at risk of being ordered to pay temporary disability benefits to the injured employee at the maximum weekly benefit, which may be significantly higher than would otherwise be due.