By Judge Lisa Lowe. Knoxville
Yes, just like the Byrds told us, to everything there is a season. (By the way, they stole that from King Solomon; apparently his copyright had expired.)
You might ask, dear readers, “Which season is it now? Is it winter or the holiday season?” No, friends…it’s the season to check the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims’ website for new settlement approval templates.
I know, I know…it’s hard to contain your excitement for this, the most wonderful season of all.
Since we started posting approval order and settlement agreement templates on the website, we’ve repeatedly advised practitioners to periodically check the website for updates. To our pleasure, some listened and regularly use the most recent versions. To our dismay, some are still using the original versions (don’t worry, I’m not mentioning names–you know who you are). We’ve been kind. We’ve been polite. But now we really must demand.
YOU MUST CHECK THE WEBSITE.
You must, because we’ve done a major overhaul of all of the settlement agreement templates and added two brand-spanking-new ones.
We’ll start with the two new ones. Both are for use after a prior settlement approval. One is for increased benefits, and the other is for closure of medical benefits.
In the past, you had to use the same templates for a first-time settlement, include all of the information, and reference that those amounts were paid at the time of the original settlement. The new templates are much shorter. They briefly reference the original settlement but focus on the issue at hand, which involves either increased benefits or a closure of medical benefits.
“Whereas,” “heretofore,” and “in witness whereof” are examples of legalese, which Merriam-Webster defines as “the language used by lawyers that is difficult for most people to understand.” Some of you are aware of the recent trend away from legalese and toward plain English. Since legal documents address the rights and obligations of the parties, it only makes sense that the parties should be able to read and understand them. This is particularly true for workers’ compensation, since the Court serves a high number of self-represented litigants.
In that vein, the other seven settlement agreement templates have been revised in an attempt to remove unnecessary legalese and replace it with clear, concise language. We’ve also added the date of the template edit, so you can make sure you’re using the most recent version.
The seven settlement agreement templates cover a variety of common scenarios:
- Open medical benefits, initial compensation period pending;
- Open medical benefits, initial compensation period expired with return to work;
- Open medical benefits, initial compensation period expired with no return to work:
- Closed medical benefits, initial compensation period pending;
- Closed medical benefits, initial compensation period expired with return to work;
- Closed medical benefits, initial compensation period expired with no return to work; and
- Doubtful and disputed.
In sum, there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity. Friends, it’s the time and season to visit the website and use the new templates.