New Forms for Death Claims and Hearing Requests

By Judge Pamela B. Johnson, Knoxville

Workplace accidents have consequences, which might range from a minor injury, to a catastrophic injury, or even death. In the first eight months of 2021, thirty-six employees have died in the workplace.

When an employee’s death arises out of the employment, the claimants are entitled to varying death benefits under Tennessee law. If the employee doesn’t leave a surviving spouse or other dependent, the claim may be brought by the administrator of the deceased employee’s estate. Alternatively, if the deceased employee leaves dependents, including but not limited to, a surviving spouse, dependent minor children, and/or qualified dependent adults, the claim may be brought by one or more dependents.

Often times, the claimants are represented by counsel and, if a claimant is a dependent minor child, also by a guardian ad litem. Knowing the identity of the claimants and/or potential dependents is crucial to the litigation of a death claim.

To assist the judge and mediator assigned to the case, the Court created an Addendum to PBD (for Death Claims Only). This form should be completed and filed with the long form Petition for Benefit Determination filed to initiate litigation in a disputed case, or the Petition for Benefit Determination for Settlement Approvals only. The party filing the petition and addendum should include the names and contact information for all claimants, counsel, and guardians ad litem. The form is available on the Bureau’s and Court’s websites under “Forms” or by clicking on the link within the Petitions for Benefit Determination.

Speaking of forms, Chief Judge Switzer hosts listening sessions across the state each year. During a recent listening session, some attorneys suggested that the current choices available – Request for Expedited Hearing or Request for Scheduling Hearing – weren’t appropriate in every case. Instead, the attorneys asked for a third option – Request for Status Conference – when the case wasn’t ready for either an expedited hearing or scheduling hearing. The Court agreed and created a new form: Hearing Request. The parties may now select from three options:

Please take a moment to visit the Court’s website and download these new forms. While on the Court’s website, please take a look at the settlement templates to make sure you’re using the latest versions (updated December 2019).

Since the topic of forms and templates can be boring, enjoy a picture of my cute Covid pup, Cooper. He says, “Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play.”

Cooper Johnson, 15 months, is ready to cheer on the Tennessee Volunteers.

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