In Tennessee, every employer who has five or more full or part time employees, is required to carry workers compensation insurance. Employers in the construction or coal mining industry must provide workers compensation coverage if they have any employees. Corporate officers may decline workers compensation insurance. But they are included in the count of employees. Family members working in the business are also included in the count of employees. State and local governments are exempt from the workers compensation law, as are employers of farm laborers and domestic help. But all can elect to purchase workers comp coverage.
To obtain workers compensation coverage in Tennessee, the employer has 4 options
- 1.purchasing a workers compensation insurance policy from an insurance company licensed to do business in Tennessee
- self-insurance for the employer who has sufficient assets to self insure
- purchasing insurance from the state owned Tennessee Workers Compensation Insurance Plan
- setting up a self-insurance trust
The employee must report the injury to the employer within 30 days in writing. when the employee receives medical care outside of the employer’s premise. If the employer does not have actual notice, the employer must report the injury to the Tennessee Department of Labor within 14 days
The employer must provide the employee a panel of three physicians. From this panel, the employee will choose a medical provider. If it is a back injury, the panel must include a chiropractor. However, chiropractic visits are limited to a maximum of 12 visits under the workers comp law. If specialized treatment is needed, the selected medical provider will make a referral. At this time, the insurer or employer is required to form another panel of three physicians that offer the specialized medical care needed.
There are neither time nor monetary limitations on medical care. The medical care will continue as long as the authorized panel physician deems it necessary. Mileage to and from medical treatment facilities is reimbursed only if exceeding 15 miles. The mileage rate is set by the state.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
The temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are calculated as two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage earned over the 52 weeks prior to the injury. The TTD weekly maximum and minimum is adjusted each year on July 1st. The weekly maximum is capped at $867.90 for injuries occurring from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. The weekly minimum TTD amount is $118.35. TTD benefits are paid every two weeks and can be for a maximum of 400 weeks.
The first 7 days of disability (the waiting period) is not paid to the injured employee unless the employee is disabled for more than 14 days.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
In Tennessee, temporary disability (TPD) benefits are paid if an employee is able to return to any type of work but is earning less than prior to the injury or working fewer hours per week. The TPD benefits are paid at two-thirds of the difference between the pre-injury wage and the post-injury wage.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
Tennessee employees who incur a permanent partial disability (PPD) are entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly wage, not to exceed a maximum of $789 per week. The minimum for PPD is equal to the minimum TTD benefit. For non-scheduled injuries, the maximum period of payments is 400 weeks. For scheduled injuries, the loss of a body part has a maximum of 200 weeks of benefits for a limb. The number of weeks declines based on the body part to only ten weeks of benefits for a toe other than the great toe.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are set identically to PPD benefits. The exception is that if the worker is 100% disabled, the PTD benefits are payable to age 65 and may be offset by social security benefits.
Burial expenses in Tennessee are covered for a work-related death up to $7,500. The death benefits for a surviving spouse and dependents follow the same guidelines as TTD benefits. They are two-thirds of the average weekly wage up to a maximum of 400 weeks. If the spouse remarries, the spouse loses the benefit. But the children continue to receive the death benefit. until they are 18 years old, or 22 years old if enrolled in an accredited educational institution. When the deceased employee does not have any dependents, $20,000 is paid to his or her estate.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing, publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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