Questions and Answers About Tennessee Workers’ Compensation – Part VI

 Q.        If an accident at work is caused by the negligence of a party other than the employer, can the employee sue the third-party in addition to filing suit under workers’ compensation?

 A.        Yes.  In situations involving third parties, it is important to consult an attorney immediately because frequently there are limitations or exceptions to the employee’s right to recover from the third-party in addition to recovering under workers’ compensation. 

 Q.        What is a third-party lawsuit or claim?

 A.        When workers’ compensation has been paid by the employer or its insurance company, the injured employee or his/her family cannot sue for pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity or future damages.  However, the employee may sue a third-party (someone other than the employer or co-employee) for these damages if the third-party’s negligence caused the injury. 

 Q.        Can you give an example?

 A.        Yes.  An employee is making a delivery for his/her employer and is hit by “B” who ran a red light.  The employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from his/her employer, but he/she can also sue “B” (the third-party).

 Q.        What kind of damages can the injured employee recover in a third-party case?

A.        Loss of wages, pain, suffering, future loss of earnings, medical expenses and other damages.

 Q.        Can the employee’s wife or husband sue the third-party for loss of consortium and services?

 A.        Yes.

 Q.        Can a co-employee be sued as a third-party?

 A.        No, not in Tennessee.

 Q.        Is an employee’s spouse entitled to benefits as a result of the employee’s injury?

 A.        No, unless the injury results in death.

 Q.        Is there a certain period of time when the employee must file a claim or lawsuit to protect his/her rights under Workers’ Compensation Law?

 A.        Yes,  A claim or lawsuit generally has to filed within one (1) year from the date of the injury.  However, there are exceptions.  It is strongly urged that an injured employee not delay longer than one (1) year following the injury to seek the advice of an attorney.

 Q.        What happens if the insurance company does not pay the employee certain benefits that he/she is entitled to pursuant to the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Law?

 A.        The insurance company can be assessed a six percent (6%) penalty if it can be shown that benefits were withheld in bad faith.  For injuries after July 1, 2004, if the employer fails to timely pay temporary disability payments to the employee, then the employer can be assessed a civil penalty based on the past-due benefits.

 Q.        If an insurance company offers to settle a case out of court, what should the employee do?

 A.        It is advisable to consult an attorney to see if the settlement offer is reasonable. 

 Q.        Can an employee be fired if he/she files a Workers’ Compensation claim?

 A.        No.  There are laws that expressly prohibit employers from discriminating against employees in any way simply because they have filed a workers’ compensation lawsuit.

 Q.        If the insurance company begins paying benefits and then stops, what can be done?

 A.        A new law (1990) has been passed guaranteeing injured workers a prompt hearing in the event benefits are cut off while an injured worker remains disabled and under a doctor’s care.  This hearing could take place within two or three weeks of the cutoff of the benefits.

If you need more information about a personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), Social Security Disability or SSI matter, or a workers compensation matter, please contact John Dreiser at the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation.  We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or by e-mail at John@farmerdreiser.com, through Facebook,  or through our website at www.farmerdreiser.com.  Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, ChattanoogaKingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, and Deer Lodge.

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About farmerdreiser

Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, The Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser provide comprehensive representation to injured victims throughout eastern Tennessee in personal injury, Social Security disability, and workers' compensation cases.
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