Next month (July), changes to Tennessee's workers' compensation process will be going into effect. There are two changes that employers and workers should expect. The first change is that the whole process will streamlined into one system. Tennessee is one of a few states that have handled workers' compensation issues in two different structures-- an administrative system and regular trial courts.
When an issue would arise regarding workers' compensation, the parties would go through the administration process, and when that failed, they would move to the state's court system. This new law will eliminate the state's normal courts from hearing workers' compensation issues-- instead creating a separate court to handle workers' compensation issues.
According to the Nashville Business Journal, with the old laws it had become a "race to the courthouse", because either the employer or the employee could file a lawsuit in a court of their choosing, and the first suit filed would determine the venue.
DC, MD and VA, all have different systems that deal with workers' compensation claims. In DC The Department of Employment Services (DOES) is set up to handle workers compensation claims. The worker and employer get a hearing that is similar to a trial - with opening statements, witnesses, exhibits, etc., except it is in front of an administrative law judge who will decide the outcome. Discovery depositions are common. Appeals are available and ultimately, the D.C. Court of Appeals (the highest local court in D.C.) can decide the case.
In the state of Maryland, hearings are condensed (there are no opening statments and closing arguments) -- but the injured worker and possibly another witness or two will testify before a commissioner who will decide the case. In some cases, Maryland allows an appeal to a circuit court for a jury trial on some issues.
Virginia has is a little of both. Discovery is available and hearings are held before a commissioner, There are levels of appeal for both the company and the worker, including to the Supreme Court of Virginia, but no right to a jury trial.
No matter what system you're in after an injury on the job, you need to get the information you need to protect yourself so you can prove your case when the time comes.
For more information on the Tennessee story, it can be found at the Nashville Business Journal. For more information on workers comp issues in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, you're already at the right place!
If you have a specific question on your rights, obligations or need information on workers compensation right now and don't have time to order one of our free books or guides, call us now and we'll do our best to get you the answers you need.