By Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer, Nashville
The Workers’ Compensation Law grants the administrator rule-making authority. That authority extends to the rules governing the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
As we’ve promised, we review those rules constantly and make amendments to them about every two years. The last amendments were effective in March of 2020.
The rule-amending process is quite involved and takes about nine to ten months. I’ll spare you the details of that process, because I instead want to direct your attention to the new changes. I suggest that you read them as soon as possible.
We refer to our rules as the “0800 rules.” The correct name is Tennessee Compilation Rules and Regulations 0800-02-21. Twenty-seven sections follow, most with subparts.
A brief word about each change follows.
- .02(15): Points out that post-settlement or post-judgment issues are not conducted under an expedited hearing standard but rather on a preponderance of the evidence standard.
- .02(16): Describes how the date of filing is determined.
- .02(19): Defines good-faith participation in mediations.
- .02(22): Lists minimum standards necessary for a petition for benefit determination. (Note that the new forms for petitions for benefit determination for settlement approval have been online for several months.)
- .02(24): States when a request for hearing may be filed.
- .02(27): Defines status hearing.
- .02(28): Refers to unserved petitions for benefit determination.
- .04(3): Provides a simple rewording of withdrawal language.
- .10: Rewrites the alternative dispute resolution rule substantially.
- .11(1): Adds status hearing.
- .11(9) and (10): Simply moves language already in existence to this section.
- .13(3): Places, in writing, the responsibility of providing interpreters on the employer for all hearings, not just expedited and compensation hearings. This is intended to include settlement hearings. (Note here that you should expect protocols for use of interpreters in court soon. A later article will alert you to those.)
- .15(2): Now permits doctors’ statements about reasonableness and necessity of treatment and medical bills to come in at an expedited hearing. Doctors’ statements about medical causation have long been permitted at expedited hearings.
- .15(3): Allows the filing of summary judgment motions only AFTER a scheduling order is issued. Any party may request a scheduling hearing. The summary judgment motion must also comply with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Rule 0800-02-21.18(1).
- .16(1)(a): Adds to the definition of medical provider to include those who give medical care for the work injury outside of section 50-6-204 required medical treatment.
- .16(2)(b): Adds “and/or bills” to agree with the .15 (2) change.
- .17(2)(b): Specifically places a twenty-item limit on interrogatories, requests for production and requests for admissions, each.
- .18: Rewrites the section on motions, but not many changes were actually made. Note the introductory clause under 18 (1) and section (3).
- .21(3): Adds clarifying language.
- .22(6): Speaks to the use of affidavits or Rule 72 declarations in compensation hearings.
- .24(1): Rewords for clarity.
- .25: Adds clarity about appellate filings. This is new.
- .26: Applies in Uninsured Employers Fund cases and is also new.
- .27: Is simply a newly-assigned number.
I’ve just pointed out where the changes reside. As questions arise about their application, I’m certain practitioners will bring those to our attention, and we’ll rule on them. And, of course, our rulings may be appealed. As always, we refrain from giving advisory opinions on these new rules.
It will likely be 2024 before any more revisions occur, unless some emergency develops. As always, feel free to make suggestions for future changes. I maintain a file with suggestions, and we’ll discuss those in 2023 when we start talking about changes again.
Thanks in advance for your willingness to learn the new rules, and to help us craft future changes together to improve the system.