Generally, employers that employ five or more full- or part-time employees are required under Tennessee law to obtain workers’ compensation insurance benefits for their employers. Employers subject to Tennessee’s Workers’ Compensation Reform Act are required to abide by certain rules and regulations with respect to obtaining workers’ compensation, as well as providing medical coverage or making payments to injured employees.
Once the injured employee reports the injury to the employer, the employer is required under the law to take certain actions. For example, the employer is required to complete Tennessee Employer’s First Report of Work Injury or Illness (Form C-20) within one working day of knowledge of the injury or illness. What is more, the employer should provide the injured worker with a panel of physicians that can treat the worker’s injury.
What to do if an Employer Violates the Workers’ Compensation Act
Unfortunately, disputes often arise between the injured employee and the employer. A common dispute involves the submission of an injury claim. For one reason or another, an employer may not think that it is required to submit an injury claim to its insurance carrier or in the case of a self-insured employer, its Third Party Administrator or internal claims handling program. When employers fail to submit the injury claims, the injured employees suffer because the employees are not able to receive insurance benefits to cover medical expenses and loss of wages.
Tennessee has a Benefit Review Program that assists employees, employers, and insurance carriers with resolving disputes with workers’ compensation claims. If an employer does not report an injury, an employee may contact the Ombudsman at the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Workers’ Compensation Division for assistance in resolving these disputes. The Ombudsman can be reached at at 1-800-332-2667 or 615-532-4812. Another option may be to contact an attorney who can help an injured employee resolve a dispute with an employer regarding workers’ compensation insurance benefits.
Employer Penalties for Violations of Workers’ Compensation Act
The Workers’ Compensation Reform Act sets forth various penalties for violating the Tennessee’s workers’ compensation law. For example, it is a violation of the law if the employer files an accident claim late, acts in bad faith in denying a claim, fails to timely submit a notice of denial of claim, fails to timely provide a panel of physicians, fails to pay an employee’s claim for temporary total disability payments, or refuses to to cooperate with the services provided by an ombudsman. The Tennessee Penalty Program investigates and assesses penalties for violations of the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act. For example, an employer is subject to a 25 percent penalty for failure to pay or to timely pay temporary disability benefits. Or if the employer fails to timely submit a Form C-20, the employer is subject to a $25 monetary penalty for each 15 days past the date it was required to submit the form.