In Tennessee, the Workers’ Compensation system is a no-fault system. The injured worker receives benefits (medical and compensation) regardless of the responsible party in the job-related incident. The injury must have arisen out of and during the course of employment. Employers have the responsibility to pay these benefits to injured workers and they must be paid either by the employer or the employer’s insurance company.
As an injured worker, accepting a settlement without a pair of eyes from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney examining every detail of the settlement may be unwise. Before you accept a final settlement, you should have an attorney help you determine if you are getting the maximum benefits to which you are entitled under the law. The answer to the question posed at the outset is yes, you can pursue a betterment settlement offer as long as you haven’t accepted the offer. If you accept the settlement offer, that is final. If you have not accepted it, then there could still be time to prove you are entitled to receive more, depending on your circumstances.
Factors affecting a workers’ comp settlement
A fair workers’ compensation settlement depends on certain factors, including:
- The injury itself and the parts of the body affected. For instance, greater reward should be provided for the loss of certain body parts, such as feet, toes, legs, arms, hands, fingers, ears, and eyes.
- Whether you returned to work at the same level of pay.
- Your level of earnings at the time of your injury (average weekly wage that includes overtime).
- Your Medical Impairment Rating (MIR) or Permanent Partial Impairment Rating (PPI). The treating physician (i.e. company doctor) will determine if you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) with regard to your work injury. These ratings will be assigned once you have reached MMI.
You have the legal right to challenge any portion of the workers’ compensation settlement if it is not fair or inaccurate.
Some of the workers’ comp benefits you should expect to receive include:
You have the right to choose one physician out of a list of three provided to you that are close to your community. These physicians should not be associated together in practice. Once selected, you are required to accept treatment from this physician and not go to other physicians without a specific referral.
Permanent injury compensation
If you are not physically able to make a full recovery as a result of your injury, you are entitled to receive permanent injury compensation which includes a percent of disability and portion of your body that has suffered injury. This is called a disability rating. If your workers’ comp doctor releases you with a disability rating, it is important to have an experienced workers’ comp attorney evaluate the rating to determine if it is fair. This rating can directly affect the level of compensation you receive.
Payments while missing work
You may be entitled to receive temporary disability payments if your physician has you off from work for more than seven days. An injured worker does not receive payment during the first week. The worker is entitled to one day of payment on day eight off from work. The injured worker is entitled to two days of payment on the ninth day off from work. If a worker misses two weeks from work, he or she is entitled to two full weeks of payment. Injured workers are entitled to receive 66.66% of the pay they normally receive each week.
In Tennessee, if the worker who died leaves behind a spouse, single child, or multiple children they are entitled to receive 66.66% of the pay the deceased worker received each week. If the deceased worker leaves behind other family members who depended on them for income, those individuals may also qualify for payment. If no one depended on the deceased worker’s income, the former worker’s estate will be given a payment of $20,000.
If you are not satisfied with your workers’ compensation settlement offer, you have the right to pursue a fairer and better settlement. Our Chattanooga workers’ compensation attorneys at Wagner & Wagner are here to help you pursue the proper level of compensation you deserve. We serve Chattanooga, Cleveland, and the surrounding areas in Tennessee and North Georgia. To schedule a free case evaluation, call our law office today at 423.454.3363 or fill out our contact form.