For claims that fall within the coverage of the reformed Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act (injuries/ occupational diseases occurring on or after July 1, 2004), as a term of settlement, future medical benefits must be left open for all claims that are apportioned per a maximum of two hundred (200) weeks or greater, as provided under the statutory schedule set forth within Tenn. Code Ann. ? 50-6-207 (Schedule of compensation). However, the parties can later agree to compromise the Employer's/ Insurer's obligation to pay future medical benefits once a three (3) year period has run from the date on which the settlement was originally approved. Further, medicals can be settled immediately on claims apportioned per a statutory maximum of less than 200 weeks. Lastly, in claims whereby an employee is deemed permanent and totally disabled by final order, decree and/or judgment, future medicals can never be compromised.
Recommendations for Handling
In claims where future medicals have to be left open as a mandatory term of settlement, we recommend to our clientele the creation of an index system that alerts the carrier or claims administrator of when the 3-year period from the date of the original approval has ended. Our firm has already implemented such a system for the benefit of our clientele, which we use on all such claims, regardless of whether our client has requested it or not .
In claims where there is some question as to whether future medicals can be closed immediately or not, we suggest presenting the question to a workers' compensation defense attorney, who handles a high volume of claims in this State.
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