New and improved rules take effect today

By Judge Pamela B. Johnson, Knoxville

Pamela JohnsonFor any chance of success, parties to a workers’ compensation claim in Tennessee must familiarize themselves with the statute as well as the many applicable rules and regulations.

Some have said the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the Court have too many rules. We agreed. So, we worked to combine Tennessee Compilations Rules and Regulations (a/k/a the “Mediation and Hearing Procedures”) and the Court’s Practices and Procedures into a single set of rules. We also deleted redundant references to language already in the statute, simplified the language, and removed unnecessary legalese.

Along with providing clarity and concision, we made a few noteworthy changes.

1) The rules were renamed “Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims and Alternative Dispute Resolution.”

2) The affidavit or Rule 72 declaration requirement in the Request for Expedited Hearing rule is not met by the filing of an affidavit or Rule 72 declaration in which the party’s attorney is the affiant or declarant; (0800-02-21-.15(1)).

3) The fee for licensed physician’s testimony was added; (0800-02-21-.17(4)).

4) In discovery disputes, if the entire set of discovery requests were unanswered, the moving party need not file the entire set with its motion; (0800-02-21-.17(5)).

5) When filing a dispositive motion, the moving party must request a motion hearing with notice included in the motion. The moving party must write the date on the motion in bold print as follows: “THIS MOTION WILL BE HEARD ON ____, 20___, AT __A.M./P.M.” Failure to obtain a hearing in a timely manner may be construed as an abandonment of the motion. (0800-02-21-.18(b)).

6) A party can no longer move for voluntary dismissal if a summary judgment motion is pending; (0800-02-21-.24(1)).

The amended rules took effect today. You can get a copy here. We hope you find them easier to understand, and in turn your practice will be simplified to some degree.

Finally, although we’re always open to suggestions regarding ways to improve the rules, we want you to know that no additional rule changes will occur until 2021 at the earliest.

Any procedural questions may always be addressed to the Clerk of Court or any individual judge’s designated contact person.

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