It’s Rulemaking Time Again

By Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer, Nashville

“This above all– to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as night follows day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” 

–Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3, spoken by Polonius.

As “night follows day,” rule-making time comes upon us again.

For the past nine years, the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims has evaluated and modified our operating rules every two years. The most recent revision occurred in February 2022. We’re already looking to the next opportunity to amend.

On Friday, April 14, we held a public hearing on the current proposed changes. Only two comments were received. If you weren’t present and made no comment, you have 14 days (until April 28) to submit a written comment. Send them to

This document highlights the proposed changes. Most of the changes are editorial in nature. For instance, we made consistent the capitalization (or not) of “petition for benefit determination” in several places.

Another simplification was to define “hearing request” to include a request for a status, scheduling, compensation or expedited hearing, rather than having different forms for each one. A new form for this purpose has been in use for a while. We remind counsel that either party may file a hearing request at any time for any of the four hearing types.

In a clarification, we added language that explains that a petition may be filed with an employer or employer’s attorney’s signature. This simply cleaned up an oversight. We had accepted these and filed them anyway.

Because of our experience in many cases, we added a sentence permitting the party filing a hearing request for expedited hearings to now supplement additional documents up to fifteen business days before the hearing. This allows for late arriving medical information and other items of proof to be filed. As always, but now specifically stated, the court will entertain requests for extension of the deadlines in this rule.

We often see motions for summary judgment, mainly against self-represented litigants. Rule 56.07 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure (and see this opinion) requires an affidavit to support a motion for additional time to respond. The affidavit requirement seemed an additional burden to some, especially self-represented employees. So, as the statute permits, we created an exception to the Rule 56 affidavit requirement when requesting more time. No affidavit to support the request is needed.

And finally, we inserted language in the compensation hearing section that mirrors the expedited hearing section concerning trial testimony.

Since brevity is the soul of wit, I will stop here. For those who think this be madness, there is method in it.

–Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2 Polonius, (again).

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