By Judge Robert Durham, Cookeville I love old courthouses. Especially, old small-town courthouses. Before I began working for the Bureau, I was privileged to practice all over the state, and I always got a thrill walking into one of those grand old buildings. I loved the musty smell of books and files and the hushed, … Continue reading I’m Moving
By Judge Robert Durham, Cookeville In this new world we have to share with COVID-19, many of our traditional ways of doing things have been challenged or even eliminated. One of those is in-person settlement approvals, which simply aren’t feasible while social-distancing. However, the Court’s duty remains to see that injured workers understand what their … Continue reading Phoning it in
By Judge Robert V. Durham, Cookeville Back when the world was normal, I traveled to Kentucky to observe how its court conducted workers’ compensation hearings. While anyone who practices workers’ comp in Tennessee would have little difficulty getting up to speed on Kentucky law, they’d encounter several procedural differences that I found very interesting. To … Continue reading Workers’ Comp in the Bluegrass State
By Judge Robert Durham, Cookeville As a judge, I appreciate the opportunity this blog affords me. It gives me a chance to vent to the world at large (or at least, the tiny part that cares about Tennessee workers’ compensation) about some of my pet peeves. Today’s pet peeve: email addresses. As you might know, … Continue reading Return to Sender–Address Unknown
By Judge Robert Durham, Cookeville Considering an appeal? I have an important tip for you: give the Appeals Board something to read. Trying to win on appeal without a transcript of the evidence is regrettably like trying to beat Alabama in college football—theoretically, it can be done, but don’t hold your breath. In fact, I … Continue reading Better Get it in Writing
By Judge Robert Durham, Cookeville In my early days as a lawyer, I would often take up quill and parchment and walk next door to the Legal Aid office where I could obtain my own personal legal charity—access to an honest-to-goodness law library. Ah, the good old days. Row upon row of casebooks, digests, and … Continue reading Look, Ma, I’m on the World Wide Web!
By Judge Robert Durham, Cookeville When conducting settlements, we’re sometimes called upon to consider the four factors that might impact the disability benefits employees may receive if they’re not back to a pre-injury wage. To be honest, it is a cut-and-dried affair in most cases. The biggest question is usually whether or not employees lost … Continue reading Thinking about the Fourth Factor
By Judge Robert V. Durham, Cookeville As we crawl toward spring (I don’t care what the calendar says; February is never the shortest month) and leave the possibility of snow behind, I am reminded of the part of the Workers’ Compensation Act that has always intrigued me the most: the exemption for voluntary “ski patrolpersons” … Continue reading Skiing on Thin Ice
By Judge Robert V. Durham, Cookeville Please see the attached Order, and Merry Christmas to all you workers' comp nerds of a certain generation...
By Judge Robert Durham, Cookeville Cell phones. The term is so inadequate, it’s almost quaint. To call the portable computer in your purse or attached to your hip a phone is like calling an automobile a portable radio. Today, they are ubiquitous, and frankly it would be foolhardy to practice law without one. However, many … Continue reading But I’m Entitled to One Phone Call, Right?
By Judge Robert V. Durham, Cookeville Back in the old days -- you know, before 2014 -- injured employees of uninsured employers were, in the vast majority of cases, simply out of luck. While they might be able to obtain a judgment against their employers, it did little good, since the reason most uninsured employers … Continue reading The Uninsured Employers Fund: Making a Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear
By Judge Robert V. Durham, Cookeville It is the fundamental rule of courtroom practice, pounded into the heads and hearts of litigators from the first day of law school, so basic that even those who received their legal education from Law and Order reruns know it is taboo -- when examining a witness in court, … Continue reading Ignoring the Elephant
By Judge Robert V. Durham, Cookeville Anything new is rarely perfect on the first try. Just ask Thomas Edison, who had to experiment with thousands of different materials and shapes before discovering the best filament to create a commercially viable light bulb. While none of us in the Court of Workers’ Compensation pretends to be … Continue reading New Mediation and Hearing Procedures Take Effect TODAY
By Judge Robert V. Durham,CookevilleIt happens to every attorney at some point in his or her career. Your eyes pop open in the middle of the night. You’re bathed in cold sweat with your stomach tied up in knots. One thought is racing through your head—“Did I just miss a deadline?”Deadlines are a dreaded, but … Continue reading Dealing with Deadlines