If a worker is suffering from work-related hearing loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, or another repetitive trauma injury, he or she better make a claim before July 1, 2014. Injuries arising out of or in the course and scope of employment in Tennessee on or after July 1, 2014 are going to be treated substantially different under the “reformed” Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act. Many changes will be procedural, i.e. Tennessee Department of Labor workers’ compensation courts versus trials in a county circuit or chancery court, but others are substantive. An example of a substantive change, would be the definition of injury. Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-102 injury definition for accidents on or after July 1, 2014.
(13) “Injury” and “personal injury” mean an injury by accident, a mental injury, occupational disease including diseases of the heart, lung and hypertension, or cumulative trauma conditions including hearing loss, carpal tunnel syndrome or any other repetitive motion conditions, arising primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment, that causes death, disablement or the need for medical treatment of the employee; provided, that:
(A) An injury is “accidental” only if the injury is caused by a specific incident, or set of incidents, arising primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment, and is identifiable by time and place of occurrence, and shall not include the aggravation of a preexisting disease, condition or ailment unless it can be shown to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the aggravation arose primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment;
(B) An injury “arises primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment” only if it has been shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the employment contributed more than fifty percent (50%) in causing the injury, considering all causes;
(C) An injury causes death, disablement or the need for medical treatment only if it has been shown to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that it contributed more than fifty percent (50%) in causing the death, disablement or need for medical treatment, considering all causes;
(D) “Shown to a reasonable degree of medical certainty” shall mean that, in the opinion of the physician, it is more likely than not considering all causes, as opposed to speculation or possibility;
(E) The opinion of the treating physician, selected by the employee from the employer’s designated panel of physicians pursuant to § 50-6-204(a)(3), shall be presumed correct on the issue of causation but this presumption shall be rebuttable by a preponderance of the evidence.
On or after July 1, 2014, it will be much more difficult to bring a claim for repetitive trauma injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or hearing loss. If you believe that you may be suffering from one of these conditions and it arose out of your employment, please contact us immediately to see if anything can be done under the current workers’ compensation system.
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, and Deer Lodge.