If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you probably have a lot of questions about what you can expect from the workers’ compensation claim process. You might even be wondering if you qualify for workers’ compensation coverage.
Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
In Tennessee, almost all employees are covered by workers’ compensation laws. However, individuals in the following worker categories are not covered:
- Domestic workers, such as nannies and personal chefs;
- Independent contractors; and
- Certain classes of agricultural workers.
Small business owners and sole proprietors may opt out of workers’ compensation coverage, but must provide it for their employees if they have five or more or if they work in the construction industry.
What is the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation?
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Bureau of Workers’ Compensation exists to manage all workers’ compensation claims made in the state of Tennessee. It protects employees and their employers by enforcing the state rules regarding workers’ compensation claims. It protects both employees’ and employers’ rights and provides both with valuable information about filing workers’ compensation claims.
If Workers’ Compensation Coverage is Provided by a Private Insurance Company, Why Do I Need to Work with The Aforementioned State Agency When I File a Claim?
The Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation does not pay accident victims the compensation they need, but oversees these claims and enforces the applicable state laws. In Tennessee, all employers with five or more employees and all construction companies, regardless of size, must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
The Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation provides the forms that employers need to fill out to file workers’ compensation claims. It also provides the recourse that claimants and workers’ compensation providers can use to resolve their disputes over claims: The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Without this state agency to regulate the filing and receipt of workers’ compensation claims in Tennessee, injury victims could face much greater difficulty getting the money they need to cover their medical expenses and lost wages after being injured in the workplace.
I am Suffering from Mesothelioma After Being Exposed to Asbestos at Work. Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Yes. You can also file a workers’ compensation claim if you are suffering from any other condition caused by exposure to a toxic substance at work, such as carbon monoxide or carbon disulfide.
Although mesothelioma can sometimes take years or even decades to develop in an individual who was exposed to asbestos during his or her career, it can be possible for a victim in this situation to file a workers’ compensation claim to recover damages. Talk to your attorney about filing a claim for asbestos exposure even if your exposure occurred many years ago – the statute of limitations for a mesothelioma claim is one year from the date that the illness is discovered, not one year from the date that the individual was exposed to the substance. If the company where you were exposed to asbestos has gone out of business since you stopped working there, you could still potentially recover compensation through a personal injury claim with the company’s insurance provider or the manufacturer of the equipment that you used that contained asbestos.
What Should I Do if my Workers’ Compensation Claim is Rejected?
If your workers’ compensation claim is rejected, go over it with your attorney to determine why it was rejected. Some reasons why a workers’ compensation claim could possibly be rejected include:
- The claimant’s employer missed the filing deadline;
- There is not enough evidence to prove the claimant’s injury occurred or that he or she needs the amount of money he or she sought;
- One or more of the necessary forms was not filled out correctly or was not received;
- The claimant did not report his or her injury to his or her supervisor within 30 days;
- The claimant’s injury was not caused by a workplace accident;
- The employer disputed the claim; and
- The claimant’s injury was not severe enough to necessitate compensation.
If your workers’ compensation claim is rejected, you can appeal it. You might need to submit additional evidence for your claim, which your attorney can help you obtain. If this is not the solution, you can have your claim reviewed by the Court of Workers’ Compensation.
Why Should I Work with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
When your claim is denied, a workers’ compensation attorney can determine how to proceed with it. He or she can give you legal advice and guidance through each step of the workers’ compensation claim process. When you need to provide more evidence for your claim, your attorney can help you determine which pieces of evidence will be most useful and how to use them to their full potential.
Do you need to work with an attorney? No. It is entirely possible to complete the workers’ compensation claim process by yourself. But working with an attorney can help you get a larger settlement amount and allow you a greater chance of filing a successful claim.
If I Do Not Qualify for Workers’ Compensation, What Are my Options?
If you do not qualify for workers’ compensation because of your employment category or any other reason, talk to your attorney about your options. Depending on the circumstances, you could potentially be able to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your losses. Remember, though, a personal injury claim is much different from a workers’ compensation. The primary difference is the element of negligence – when you file a personal injury claim, you allege that another party’s negligence was the direct cause of your injury and subsequent expenses. With a workers’ compensation claim, there is no need to allege fault.