What Is My Workers Compensation Case Worth?
THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR INJURY DATE IN DETERMINING THE VALUE OF YOUR CLAIM
Due to legislative changes the answer as to the value of your case will vary significantly depending on your date of injury. In 2014 the Legislature enacted drastic reforms to the Tennessee Workers Compensation Act. The bottom line impact of the "reform" was to significantly decrease the amount of compensation an employee will received for life changing permanent injuries. As such, if your injury occurred after July 1, 2014 a new limited formula will be used to determine the value of your case. This formula takes into account a multitude of factors including your impairment rating, whether you remain employed, whether your doctor believes you can return to your old job, age, and the unemployment rate in your county. In addition to the compensation for your injury you are also entitled to medical treatment and a weekly workers compensation check while you are healing.
Regardless of your date of injury, it is no surprise that the most common question we receive involves the value of the case. People need to know value so they can determine how much help they will receive after sustaining an injury that will impact their ability to earn a living. Unfortunately this question is also one the most difficult to answer. There is simply not a specific dollar award for specific injuries. Rather, the Court must consider certain factors when determining the value of a worker's compensation claim. For injuries that occur prior to July 1, 2014 these factors include:
- The medical impairment rating
- Restrictions and limitations caused by the injury
- Whether the employee made a meaningful return to work with the pre–injury employer
- The employee's age and education
- The employee's average weekly wage
- The employee's working skills and training.
- Local Job opportunities
In addition to these legal factors, an experienced lawyer will also take into consider many other variables that just cannot be found in a book. In each case handled by our office, we consider past experiences with similar cases, the need for an independent medical exam, previous rulings from the judge assigned to the case and patterns of opposing counsel in other work comp cases. After a complete picture of your case has been developed, we can then give our clients advice as to the value of their case. This is often presented in terms of a reasonable range of value. At this point, the client can to decide whether to accept a settlement, make a counter–demand or to present the case in Court.
As for injuries that occur after July 1, 2014, the value of a case will be based upon a formula that will include a more limited number of factors. These factors will include the impairment rating, whether the employee can return to work, whether the treating physician agrees that the employee is unable to return to work, whether the employee does not have a high school diploma or GED and whether the employee works in a county where the unemployment rate was 2% or more than the state average. It is also important to note that he legislature severely limited the ability of an employee to present their own medical expert.
If you have a permanent work related injury feel free to contact one of our Tennessee Workers Compensation Lawyers today.