Tennessee Workers' Compensation Laws

Maybe you tripped over wires while working at the Grand Ole Opry, or hit your head waiting tables at a blues club in Memphis. In any case, injuries are an unfortunate fact of life for workers in Tennessee. Because of this, the state requires that virtually all non-government employers purchase workers' compensation insurance, a no-fault system of coverage for work-related injuries and illnesses. If you think your injury or illness is work-related, you'll need to know the ins and outs of pursuing workers' comp in Tennessee.

The following table highlights key aspects of the workers' compensation laws in Tennessee, including some types of available benefits and important deadlines.

Important Deadlines
  • 30 days to inform employer of injury (Sec. 50-6-201)
  • 1 year after accident or last payment to challenge a claim denial or dispute (Sec. 50-6-203)
Some Types of Benefits
  • Medical care: all reasonable and necessary medical care required to treat the injury, including some travel expenses (Sec. 50-6-204)
  • Temporary partial disability: for employees temporarily disabled from performing job at full-capacity; two-thirds of the difference between pre-injury wage and post-injury wage (Sec. 50-6-207(2))
  • Temporary total disability: compensate worker unable to work for a temporary period of time; two-thirds of employee's average weekly wage (Sec. 50-6-207(1))
  • Permanent partial disability: benefits where injury affects ability to do certain jobs, but employee still able to work in some capacity; two-thirds of employee's average weekly wage (Sec. 50-6-207(3))
  • Permanent total disability: compensate employee rendered permanently unable to work anywhere; two-thirds of the employee's average weekly wage (Sec. 50-6-207(4), 50-6-209(a))
  • Death benefits: up to $7,500 in burial costs; survivors' benefits for dependents of an employee who dies from a work-related injury or disease (Sec. 50-6-204(c), 50-6-209(b))
Employer Obligations
  • Employers with 5 or more full or part-time employees (and all construction employers) are required to purchase workers' comp insurance or qualify as self-insured (exceptions include state & local governments) (Sec. 50-6-103, 50-6-104 et seq., 50-6-102)
  • Employer may restrict employee's choice of physician (Sec. 50-6-204(a)3)

First Steps After an Injury

If you're sick or injured, you should give notice to your employer or supervisor as soon as possible. If you don't give notice to your employer within 30 days, you risk losing your right to compensation. Once your employer knows about the injury, it has one day to report it to the insurance company, which has 14 days to begin payments or deny the claim. Your employer may also limit your choice of physicians with a list of authorized providers.

What Can I Do About Claim Disputes?

In exchange for these no-fault workers' comp benefits, you generally give up your right to sue your employer. Additionally, you may be denied benefits if the accident was caused by your willful misconduct, intoxication, or drug use. However, you do have options if your claim is denied or there is a dispute regarding benefits, including the following:

An attorney can be very helpful during any stage of this process by answering your questions, helping you meet deadlines, and representing your interests against opposing counsel.

Need Help after an Injury? Let a Tennessee Attorney Provide a Free Claim Review

Workplace injuries cause both physical and financial pain. Workers' compensation is designed to return you to work and to health, but you'll need to navigate deadlines and paperwork first. If you've suffered a workplace injury or illness, let an attorney familiar with Tennessee's workers' compensation laws provide a free claim evaluation on the strength of your case.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.