The administration bill dealing with workers compensation (HB1440/SB1645) was amended and passed last night to add an escape clause back into the bill. This is due to the negotiations and hard work of Bruce Fox, Rocky McElhaney, Tony Farmer, Tony Seaton, and Jim Bilbo; with the help of Senator Mark Norris and his staff.
Click on the link to the escape clause amendment with a description of what it does.
AMENDMENT #2 revises the provision of Workers’ Compensation Law, described in (7) of the Bill Summary, that authorizes an injured employee who does not have a meaningful return to work to obtain more benefits than the employee would be eligible to receive when applying the appropriate multipliers to the employee’s impairment rating if at least three of the following facts concerning the employee are true as determined by the workers’ compensation judge based on clear and convincing evidence:
The employee lacks a high school diploma or GED, or the employee cannot read or write on a grade eight level;
- The employee is 55 years of age or older;
- The employee has no reasonably transferable job skills from prior vocational background and training; and
- The employee has no reasonable employment opportunities available locally considering the employee’s permanent medical condition.
For injuries that occur on or after July 1, 2014, but not after June 30, 2016, this amendment instead allows the cap that would otherwise apply to the employee’s benefits by operation of the impairment rating and the appropriate multipliers to be exceeded if, in the opinion of the presiding workers’ compensation judge based on clear and convincing evidence, limiting the employees’ recovery to the benefits by application of the impairment rating and the appropriate multipliers would be inequitable in light of the totality of the circumstances. In such cases, the court or the workers’ compensation judge will be authorized to award additional benefits if the judge makes specific, documented findings that, as of the date of the award or settlement, the following facts concerning the employee are true:
The employee has not returned to work at a wage more than seventy percent of the employee’s pre-injury wage;
- The authorized treating physician has certified that due to the permanent restrictions on activity the employee has suffered as a result of the injury the employee no longer has the ability to perform their pre-injury occupation. The authorized treating physician’s certification will have a presumption of correctness that may be overcome by clear and convincing evidence; and
- The employee was assigned an impairment rating of at least 10 percent to the body as a whole by the employee’s authorized treating physician.
This amendment changes the maximum award that is available in cases where the cap is exceed from up to 450 weeks multiplied by the employees compensation rate adjusted to account for the amount of the employee’s post injury wage to up to 275 weeks multiplied by the employees compensation rate, inclusive of the employee’s permanent partial disability award.
If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI matter, personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), EEOICPA claim, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact 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, through Facebook, or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Jamestown, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, Greeneville, Harriman, Dayton, Spring City, and Deer Lodge.