Tennessee Construction Injury Law: Workers’ Compensation
Depending on the specific circumstances of an accident, those who are injured while working on construction sites may have numerous options available when it comes to obtaining compensation. At InjuryTN, we know that acquiring benefits from workers’ compensation is most commonly the first choice in these situations.
The primary purpose of workers’ compensation benefits is to offer timely and accessible remuneration to cover all medical expenses, loss of wages, and, when necessary, occupational rehabilitation to workers who were injured within the scope of their employment. These workers, in turn, surrender their right to file suit against their employers for negligence, also known as “workers’ compensation immunity.”
Workers’ Compensation Immunity
This system was established on the basis of strict liability, meaning it won’t be necessary for claimants to provide evidence that the employer acted negligently or was guilty of some wrongdoing. On the other hand, especially in cases of serious injury or death, these benefits typically do not meet the high expenses required to cover the entirety of the worker or their family’s damages.
However, this is why it’s good that the law does not inhibit workers from the pursuit of third-party litigation against other liable individuals or entities after collecting workers’ compensation. Although, it may influence benefits like Social Security Disability Insurance, making it ever more imperative to speak with an accomplished construction injury lawyer prior to making the final decision on how to move forward.
Availability of Workers’ Compensation
Although workers’ compensation is widely available to the majority of employees in both private and public sectors, those who work in construction will normally require its use more often due to the higher rates of injury they experience at the hands of inherent dangers in the industry. Nonetheless, out of the annual 4,000 private sector laborers who were killed in workplace accidents, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that as much as 20% of them worked in the construction industry. Countless more sustained serious injuries which could be long-term and potentially disabling. The majority of accidental injuries, diseases, deaths and other incidents which take place on a job site during work or when an employee is performing work-related activities will be covered under Tennessee law.
Workers’ Compensation in Tennessee
Laws regarding workers’ compensation will vary significantly from state to state, but Tennessee’s are codified in § 50-6-102. It’s heavy reading, but the general idea is clear: Tennessee employers who have more than four workers under their employment must provide workers’ compensation insurance. Furthermore, the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act was developed to simplify these regulations and provide immediate assistance to workers as they return to health as well as work. This document, as established by the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation helps both employers and employees in minimizing the risk and affect of workplace injuries.
In construction, though, employers with only a single employee should also provide workers’ compensation insurance. However, just because these entities are legally obligated to offer workers’ compensation insurance and a worker would not need to provide evidence that their employer acted negligently does not necessarily imply that such benefits can be so easily obtained. Commonly, workers will discover that they need to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to obtain the restitution their employer owes them.
Workers’ Compensation Reform
The fact of the matter is that in the majority of states, including Tennessee, accessibility to workers’ compensation benefits has been drastically reduced in recent years. Recent research from ProPublica shows that over a span of more than a decade, reform of these workers’ compensation benefits recently has had numerous impacts:
- Capped permanent total disability benefits at age 75.
- Restrictions on eligibility for permanent total disability benefits
- Removal of wage-loss benefits for workers who were determined to be permanently partially disabled
- Increased standards of causation making it more difficult for those with occupational diseases or repetitive stress injuries to qualify for benefits
- Removal of benefits for psychiatric claims unless conditions were a result of a physical injury. Even so, remuneration is restricted to only 6 months.
- Capped attorney’s fees for workers’ compensation cases (excludes employer’s attorneys)
Measures of this kind unfortunately don’t do much to motivate employers to provide coverage for their workers, especially in construction, where maintaining the safety of all workers is a costly task.
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Workers’ Compensation Process in Tennessee
When a construction worker is injured on the job, the first step they should take is filing a notice of workplace injury with the employer within 30 days of the accident. Next, they would have two years from the date of the incident’ report’s filing to file a workers’ compensation claim. The initial injury report needs to include the nature of the incident as pertinent information like the time and date, the time, the location, and the names of anyone who witnessed its occurrence.
Workers should then promptly seek out an evaluation from a medical professional. However, it should be noted that workers will be required to visit an authorized medical provider (usually of the employer’s choosing), and in the event that they would like to get a second opinion on the matter, they may only change doctors one time. Additionally the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation as well as any courts of subsequent appeals will weigh the testimony of the treating physician in heavily when determining workers’ compensation benefits.
Employers and insurers will frequently require employees to submit a medical examination independently. Objectively, the purpose of this would be in identifying the condition, determining if it was work-related, and suggest necessary medical treatment. Sadly, though, employers will commonly use this against their employees, as both insurance companies and doctors alike can reap the benefits of insurers referring their patients to a doctor and they reject the seriousness of the injury. Unfortunately, scenarios just like this take place much more frequently than they ever should, and it is one primary reason that employing an experienced legal team is crucial to your case’s success throughout the entirety of the process.
Experienced Construction Injury Lawyers
Additionally, it is relatively common for the claims of workers who have been injured to be rejected outright by an insurance company. This may have a basis on numerous grounds, such as denying the severity or even the entire occurrence of the injury. Strategies like this are an attempt at reducing the responsibility, and workers who are faced with such situations should not give in under such pressure. Regardless of the defendant’s arguments, you are entitled to contest the denial of compensation benefits.
The appeals process is intricate and can be overwhelming when traversing it alone, that’s why our accomplished team of legal professionals is ready to fight by your side every step of the way until you achieve the outcome you deserve. Contact InjuryTn today by phone or online to set up your free and confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights. There are no costs or fees until we win your case.