By Judge Pamela B. Johnson, Knoxville
We live in a culture that likes to count and measure things. We budget our households, count our daily steps, and chart our children’s growth, while test scores measure their learning. I’m not immune. I often find myself mentally counting things, and I have developed my own set of preferences for numbers (Did you know prime numbers are unlucky?).
So, I fit in well at the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, which also likes numbers.
The Bureau analyzes data, which it collects from the “statistical data form.” The Bureau then reports the relevant data to the legislature each year. The law requires it; see Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-244. This data collection started in the late ’90s, but for the past three years, the information collected has served as a measure of how efficiently and consistently the new system is working.
Did you know?
- 8,049 workers’ compensation claims were closed from July 2016 through May 2017;
- The average time from Maximum Medical Improvement to claim conclusion was 143 weeks under pre-reform law and 23 weeks under post-reform law; and
- The average time from date of injury to claim conclusion dropped from 263 weeks under pre-reform law to 59 weeks under post-reform law.
These are just a few examples of the relevant data collected from the statistical data form. Click here to view the 2017 annual report.
Here’s what practitioners in the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims need to know about the forms:
Notice: In order to collect this information, the employer must file a statistical data form (currently known as the SD-1 form) for every workers’ compensation claim concluded by settlement or trial. The employee is required to cooperate with the employer so that the form is fully completed. By recent statute change, a statistical data form must now be filed when a prior settlement or trial award is modified (for example, subsequent payment of the initial benefits or subsequent closure of future medical benefits), even if a statistical data form was filed with the original settlement or following trial.
Warning: You might now be asking yourself what happens if a statistical data form is not filed at the conclusion of the claim by settlement or trial. Can the parties be penalized? The answer is yes. The penalty may range from not less than $100 to no more than $1,000 per violation. In addition to a penalty assessment, the settlement will not become final until the statistical data form is fully completed and received by the Bureau.
The Good news: A new statistical data form (to be known as the SD-2) is currently making its way through the review and approval process. The SD-2 will be applicable to post-reform law cases. The goal is to make the SD-2 form easier to complete while still collecting the relevant data for analysis.
By the way, we will be more strict about the SD-2 being completely filled out. Like a prime number, incomplete SD-2s will be bad luck: Your settlement won’t be approved.