Seasons Change, and So Do We

Sarah Byrne

By Sarah Byrne, Staff Attorney, and Penny Shrum, Clerk of Court, Nashville

A time to plant, a time to reap

Any denizen of Tennessee knows our weather is almost as mercurial and unpredictable as 1960s America. It’s hard to tell what season it is: summer one day, and winter the next.

Typically, Tennessee has five “little winters.” We have redbud winter in late March, dogwood winter in late April, locust winter in early May, blackberry winter in mid-May and whippoorwill winter in late May. We’ve just left dogwood winter. Everything is blooming, but you may have to bring your plants inside or cover them with sheets. Some people have their heat on in the morning and the air conditioner in the afternoon. This weather has us confused about what to wear to stay comfortable.

A time to rend, a time to sew

The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims is like the seasons – we change. And here’s an important one: checks for settlement approval fees should not be sent to any of our offices until the approval has been scheduled. We need to limit the time that we’re holding checks for settlement approvals if they’re mailed to us in advance of the approval hearing. This is to comply with the check handling procedures established by the Department of Finance and Administration.

It violates the Department of Finance and Administration policies when firms and carriers mail checks before they schedule the hearing, in anticipation or hopes of a settlement being reached, and then expect us to hold the check until the hearing is held. So, if we have checks that have been in our offices for longer than seven days, we will return them to your office.

Penny Shrum

A time to gain, a time to lose

But some things haven’t changed: The Court still doesn’t want documents from the mediation that are not relevant to your dispute, especially multiple copies of the same medical records or medical records that have no bearing on the issues. The employee’s kidney stone treatment is not relevant to his shoulder injury. We’ve mentioned this before, but a little reminder never hurts. Click here and here.

Please help the mediator lose these unwanted and unnecessary documents during mediation by identifying or submitting only the ones you think are most important and relevant to the dispute.

A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

Seasons come and go, but what doesn’t change is that mediation works. The Bureau’s mediators provide a service that is beneficial and essential to the parties and the system. Mediation is free and effective in resolving issues. They are well-trained and genuinely interested in facilitating a fair, agreed resolution. Further, avoiding trial manages risk. Somebody loses every trial and, often, neither side gets exactly what they sought. We’ve mentioned all this previously too; click here.

On that note, consider that there’s always a season for peace. Sure, reaching an agreement on some claims might seem impossible or like wasted time. But the Court asks that you at least give peace a chance.

Photo by Judge Deana Seymour, Memphis.

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