By Jane Salem, staff attorney, Nashville
I’m dating myself here, but as a kid and teenager, I loved listening to LPs and the radio. I have older siblings who taught me what’s “good” music. Some of my early favorites were greatest hits collections by James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt and Sly and the Family Stone. I also enjoyed trying to predict which song would be number one each week on “American Top 40.”
At some point, one of my siblings clued me in that the top 40 hits are, for the most part, mediocre, and that greatest hits albums aren’t cool, either.
Casey Kasem’s artist trivia was fun, and the long-distance dedications were sappy but a little endearing, too. As for greatest hits collections, they’re useful to decide whether you like an artist who’s new to you. And sometimes they’re like old friends. Occasionally you just want to relax to familiar lyrics and music. Here’s someone who backs me up.
With all this in mind, we recently decided that the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims blog contains a few “greatest hits.” We re-read a post from a couple of years back (about Medicare set-asides, below) and remarked that the information was still accurate and helpful to workers’ compensation practitioners in Tennessee. Why not recycle a bit?
Rather than arbitrarily determine what’s a “hit,” I looked at the blog’s statistics to see which posts were viewed the most often. Our top five are below. I’m counting backwards because that’s what Casey used to do.
Judge Thomas Wyatt tells the story of a recent case on his docket where the parties eschewed the conflict that, unfortunately, is so often a part of litigation generally and the workers’ compensation system specifically. Instead, the parties collaborated to ensure that an injured worker received the best possible health care and returned to work as soon as possible.
Judge Wyatt learned of this employee’s inspiring story while approving his settlement agreement. Settlement approvals consume a great deal of the judges’ time, so we’ve written quite a few posts about settlement procedures that have garnered many views. Read on.
Judges Joshua Davis Baker and Audrey Headrick teamed up to explain that state workers’ compensation judges can’t approve provisions in proposed agreements that allocate rights under federal law.
That’s why the Court drafted templates containing the appropriate language regarding Medicare set-asides that the judges will approve. Judges Baker and Headrick respectfully urged you to stick to the language in those templates.
Judges Pamela Johnson, Lisa Lowe and Dale Tipps collaborated for another post about settlement procedures.
They offered examples of the types of rationales that persuade a judge to approve a settlement closing future medical benefits. For example, “The employee is no longer living in Tennessee” isn’t a valid reason to close future meds. In contrast, here’s a succinct example where the judge approved the agreement: “The Employee has not sought medical treatment for this injury in more than one year, and no additional treatment has been recommended. The amount being paid to close future medical benefits takes into consideration the Employee’s life expectancy and the projected treatment costs.”
Judge Joshua Davis Baker discussed the interplay between the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Mediation and Hearing Procedures. On that note, earlier this month, new rules took effect, now called the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
For instance, the Rules of Civil Procedure don’t limit the number of interrogatories that may be served, but the Court’s rules cut them off at 20. Judge Baker recommended tailoring your discovery requests to each case rather than sending the dreaded “boilerplate” discovery.
Finally getting to the top post…
A couple of years ago, Judge Pamela Johnson explained that she just didn’t have an answer to that question because the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board hasn’t addressed it yet. Judge Johnson outlined the existing law that will come into play if and when the Board has a case presenting this issue.
We still don’t have an answer to this question, by the way, but we can always hope for one.
Which reminds me of Casey Kasem’s signature catchphrase whenever he came to the end of the hits: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
So long for now.