By Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer, Nashville
In case you missed it ̶ and most did ̶ the Legislature renamed the Second Injury Fund last session.
Now known as the “Subsequent Injury and Vocational Rehabilitation Fund,” its responsibilities remain much the same for those practicing in this area. The “vocational rehabilitation” part is a topic for a whole other blog post. It’s still in the rule-making stage and not yet implemented.
What I want to explain here is how to add the Subsequent Injury Fund (still “SIF”) to a pending lawsuit. This isn’t a substantive change; it’s procedural.
Many practitioners name the SIF as a party from the beginning when filing the initial petition for benefit determination. No problem there, although in the vast majority of those cases, the SIF gets dismissed voluntarily when the other party realizes no SIF claim exists.
However, sometimes the original petition for benefit determination is filed just to get benefits started, and the parties may not recognize the need to add the SIF. An expedited hearing might occur before the SIF is added.
Currently, the practice is to file an amended petition for benefit determination adding the SIF. Previously, internal procedures of the Court and Mediation and Ombudsman Services of Tennessee assigned this petition to a mediator. Notices were sent, calls made, paper exchanged, etc. This resulted in needless delay and labor-intensive efforts on everyone’s part, while doing little to move the case forward.
Today, we simplify this procedure. If you want to add the SIF as a party to an existing case (a petition for benefit determination with an assigned docket number), simply file a motion with the Court to add the SIF. Include both the original party and the SIF on your certificate of service.
It’s easy and streamlined. Assuming the Court grants the motion, the SIF is now a party, and all future matters (other motions and mediations) will include them. If you file an amended PBD to add the SIF from this point forward, expect the clerk to tell you to file a motion instead.
And remember, whether you call it the Second Injury Fund, Subsequent Injury Fund, or the Subsequent Injury and Vocational Rehabilitation Fund, it still smells as sweet.