By Judge Robert V. Durham,
It happens to every attorney at some point in his or her career. Your eyes pop open in the middle of the night. You’re bathed in cold sweat with your stomach tied up in knots. One thought is racing through your head—“Did I just miss a deadline?”
|Deadlines are a dreaded, but necessary, evil in any organization, and the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims is no different.|
Since the 2013 reform, those involved in workers’ compensation in Tennessee must cope with a multitude of deadlines that did not exist just a few years ago. It can seem overwhelming, but education and preparation can help you meet the problem of deadlines head-on. To help, below is a summary of the most significant deadlines found in the Court’s Mediation and Hearing Procedures and Practices and Procedures, loosely organized by the time frames involved.
Three business days:
The employer must file a wage statement three days before the first scheduled mediation.
Three to Five business days:
A party contesting a request for expedited hearing has five business days to file a response demonstrating that the requesting party is not entitled to temporary disability or medical benefits. The moving party may file a reply, but must do so on or before three business days after the opposing party’s response, but no later than forty-eight hours prior to the hearing, whichever occurs first.
Five business days:
If any party disagrees with a dispute certification notice, that party must file an objection with the mediator within five business days.
If a non-dispositive motion is opposed, a response to the non-dispositive motion must be filed on or before five business days.
All subpoenas compelling witness attendance to a trial or a hearing must be served no later than five days before the scheduled trial or hearing, unless the judge gives leave to extend this period.
The employer must pay the filing fee of $150 before a scheduled settlement approval hearing or within five business days afterward.
Five to seven business days:
Written notice must be provided to all parties at least five days before any scheduled deposition when the deposition is to be taken in the employee’s county of residence. If it will take place in a county other than the employee’s county of residence, written notice of the deposition must be provided at least seven days before the scheduled deposition.
A notice of appeal must be filed within seven business days of a judge entering an interlocutory order.
Ten business days:
Prehearing briefs should be filed at least 10 days before a scheduled hearing.
All medical records to be presented as evidence at a scheduled hearing must be filed no later than 10 business days before the scheduled hearing.
No more than 10 business days before a scheduled compensation hearing or as otherwise directed by the judge, each party must file, either jointly or separately, a prehearing statement.
Fourteen calendar days:
After filing a petition for benefit determination, each party must promptly provide the other parties with copies of any medical records. Further, each party shall provide copies of any medical reports to all other parties as they receive them during the course of the proceeding, within 14 calendar days of receipt.
Thirty calendar days:
All parties must participate in an initial hearing no more than 30 days after a party files a request for hearing.
All motions potentially dispositive of any issue in a case must be scheduled for hearing by the party or attorney filing the motion on the next motion day following the 30-calendar-day deadline to respond, or as soon thereafter as is practicable, but no later than as set forth in the scheduling order absent court order. If a dispositive motion is opposed, a response to the motion must be filed on or before 30 days after the filing of the dispositive motion.
If, as a result of the expedited hearing, the employer files a motion to dismiss, the employee shall have 30 days to file a written response.
A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date the judge enters a compensation order.
Sixty calendar days:
Immediately after a dispute certification notice has been filed with the clerk, either party must file a request for hearing. If no request for hearing is filed within 60 days after the date of issuance of the dispute certification notice, the clerk will place the case on a separate dismissal calendar for a show-cause hearing.
After final determination of any case, the parties have 60 days to withdraw exhibits and depositions if no appeal is filed, or they will be destroyed.
The Court calculates all time limits in the manner provided by Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 6.01. If you find yourself pressed for time for anything other than a few limited exceptions, you may ask for an enlargement of time pursuant, so long as the original time limit has not expired. If time has expired, you may still ask for an extension of time if the delay was due to excusable neglect.
Keep in mind this list is not exhaustive, and does not contain any deadlines provided in the statutes, the Rules of Civil Procedure, or that may be set by the individual judge while the matter is in Court. In addition, the deadlines outlined above are always subject to revision by the Court.
Finally, while this list will hopefully be of some assistance, it cannot be cited as authority. When it comes to deadlines, the surest path to a good night’s sleep is to always go straight to the source and check them yourself.