My Workers’ Compensation Case Did Not Settle at BRC. What’s Next?

Also known as an Alternative Dispute Resolution, a Benefit Review Conference (BRC) is a type of informal event designed to settle a workers’ compensation dispute. Such conferences can be requested by either party, i.e. the employee or employer/ insurance company, to dispute a workers’ compensation denial or approval, respectively.

If you are a Nashville, TN resident who recently participated in a Benefit Review Conference and your claim was still denied, you might think there are no more options available. However, it is still possible to move forward with your claim using a lawyer’s help.

The litigation phase

If a workers’ compensation claim does not get settled during a Benefit Review Conference, the case enters a litigation phase through the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Court at the Tennessee Department of Labor. This involves filing a lawsuit detailing the injuries sustained on the job and the requested damages.

“There will be a lawsuit filed, there'll be some interrogatories, requests of production of documents: that's the discovery phase,” says Nashville attorney Rocky McElhaney in a video about BRC settlement denials and what to do next. “Eventually, your deposition will be taken if it's not already been taken. We'll take proof from your doctor and then that final hearing will be set.”

The discovery phase involves collecting evidence in support of the jobsite injury. Evidence typically includes medical reports, photos and videos of the accident and resulting injuries, and witness testimonies. If the police arrived on the scene of the worksite accident for any reason, their report is also used as evidence. McElhaney stresses that just because the claim is not currently settled, it does not mean it won’t be. All a BRC denial indicates is that the insurance company currently does not believe the employee is owed what was requested, and that the attorney will seek to resolve the case as swiftly as possible.

What to expect during a workers’ compensation trial

If a workers’ compensation case goes to trial, the claim will be discussed in detail during an administrative hearing. To schedule a hearing, the employee must file a Request for Initial Hearing with the Tennessee Court of Workers' Compensation Claims. Both parties (the employer and employee) present evidence to the appointed judge, such as witness testimonies and various documents. Typical evidence furnished in such hearings include, but are not limited to:

  • Employment records
  • Injured employee testimony
  • Medical records detailing the injured employee’s treatment, including any applicable procedures
  • Medical records outlining the injured employee’s current physical and mental condition
  • Evidence of lost wages
  • Unpaid medical bills
  • Expert witness depositions and reports
  • Job search documents, if applicable

After hearing the evidence, the judge makes a decision within 30 to 90 days. If the judge sides with the employee, the benefits they receive are referred to as Findings and Award. If the judge sides with the employer, the result is known as Findings and Order. Should the judge rule against the employee, the worker can file an appeal with their attorney’s assistance.

Types of benefits in TN workers’ compensation claims

Workers injured on the job are eligible for every type of medical care related to their injury or injuries, including emergency medical care, hospital stays, prescription medication, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.  Some medical care-related travel expenses are also covered, such as traveling a long distance to see a specialist.

Employees can also receive temporary partial disability, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, and permanent total disability benefits. Temporary partial disability benefits for employees who currently cannot perform their jobs as normal are “two-thirds of the difference between pre-injury wage and post-injury wage” as per Sec. 50-6-207(2) of the Tennessee Code.

Temporary total disability pays two-thirds of the worker's average weekly earnings for a set period while they recover, allowing them to heal and return to work. Permanent partial disability pays two-thirds of the individual’s average weekly earnings if they can still do their job “in some capacity.” Permanent total disability is for those who can no longer perform their jobs and makes up two-thirds of their average weekly earnings.

In the event of the employee’s untimely passing from worksite-related injuries, their surviving family members receive death benefits. This includes up to $7,500 in funeral and burial costs. “Survivors’ benefits” for the employee’s dependents are a percentage of what the individual would have reasonably earned if they had lived. In the event of the employee’s spouse remarrying, the benefits stop.

The benefits of hiring a Nashville workers’ comp attorney

Working with a legal professional regarding an unsettled workers’ compensation claim often proves invaluable. The attorney disputes any “factual mistakes” in claim reports, such as one stating that the employee was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident when they were wearing one and other protective gear. An experienced lawyer also provides negotiation and representation services as necessary to help the employee win the compensation they deserve.

If you need to speak with a legal professional at any time during your workers’ compensation claim, contact Rocky McElhaney Law Firm. We have offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville, TN, with McElhaney named Nashville’s Best Attorney for nine consecutive years by the Nashville Scene. Additionally, the firm has been named Best of the Bar by the Nashville Business Journal for four years’ running. This esteemed attorney has recovered $250 million for his personal injury clients and continues to provide aggressive representation. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today.

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