2010 Tennessee Code
Title 50 - Employer And Employee
Chapter 6 - Workers' Compensation Law
Part 2 - Claims and Payment of Compensation
50-6-206 - Settlements.

50-6-206. Settlements.

(a)  (1)  The interested parties shall have the right to settle all matters of compensation between themselves, but all settlements, before the settlements are binding on either party, shall be reduced to writing and shall be approved by the judge of the circuit court or chancery court of the county where the claim for compensation is entitled to be made. It shall be the duty of the judge of the circuit court or chancery court to whom any proposed settlement is presented for approval under this chapter, to examine the proposed settlement to determine whether the employee is receiving, substantially, the benefits provided by this chapter. To this end, the judge may call and examine witnesses. Upon the settlement's being approved, judgment shall be rendered on the settlement by the court and duly entered by the clerk. The cost of the proceeding shall be borne by the employer. Certified copies of all papers, orders, judgments and decrees filed or entered by the court upon the approval of such settlement, together with a copy of the settlement agreement, shall be forwarded to the division of workers' compensation by the employer within ten (10) days after the entry of the judgment. If it appears that any settlement approved by the court does not secure to the employee in a substantial manner the benefits of this chapter, the settlement may, in the discretion of the trial judge, be set aside at any time within thirty (30) days after the receipt of the papers by the division, upon the application of the employee or the administrator of the division in the employee's behalf, whether the court has adjourned in the meantime or not, notwithstanding § 50-6-230 to the contrary. In all cases where the settlement proceedings or any other court proceedings for workers' compensation under this chapter involve a subsequent injury wherein the employee would be entitled to receive or is claiming compensation from the second injury fund provided for in § 50-6-208, the administrator shall be made a party defendant to the proceedings in an action filed by either the employer or the injured employee and an attorney representing the department under the supervision of the attorney general and reporter shall represent the administrator in the proceeding. The court, by its decree, shall determine the right of the claimant to receive compensation from the fund, and the clerk of the court shall furnish to the administrator a certified copy of the decree, the cost of which shall be added to the costs of the proceedings and shall be paid as other costs are adjudged in the case.

     (2)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter to the contrary, the parties shall not be permitted to compromise and settle the issue of future medical benefits to which an employee is entitled pursuant to this chapter, except in accordance with the following:

          (A)  If a workers' compensation claim is settled by the parties, the parties shall not agree to compromise and settle the issue of future medical benefits for a period of three (3) years from the date on which the settlement is approved. No settlement agreement shall be approved that contains any language inconsistent with this subdivision (a)(2).

          (B)  After the expiration of the three-year period, if the parties mutually agree to a compromise and settlement on the issue of future medical benefits, the parties shall not be required to request a benefit review conference. Instead, the parties shall submit the agreement to the proper court for approval, pursuant to this subsection (a) or to the commissioner or the commissioner's designee pursuant to subsection (c).

          (C)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter or this subdivision (a)(2), an employee who is determined to be permanently totally disabled shall not be allowed to compromise and settle the employee's rights to future medical benefits.

          (D)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the parties from compromising and settling at any time the issue of future medical benefits on any schedule member injury not subject to § 50-6-241(d)(1)(A).

(b)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever there is a dispute between the parties as to whether or not a claim is compensable, or a dispute as to the amount of compensation due, the parties may settle the matter without regard to whether the employee is receiving substantially the benefits provided by this chapter; provided, however, that the settlement paid to the employee shall not exceed fifty (50) times the minimum weekly benefit rate as of the date of the claimed injury. If the parties settle the matter pursuant to this subsection (b), the employee shall be entitled to no future medical benefits and no settlement agreement between the parties shall be approved by either the court or the commissioner or the commissioner's designee, if the settlement agreement contains an amount of money designated or allocated for future medical benefits. The settlement must be determined by the court or the commissioner or the commissioner's designee to be in the best interest of the employee.

(c)  (1)  The commissioner or the commissioner's designee may approve a proposed settlement among the parties if:

          (A)  The settlement agreement has been signed by the parties;

          (B)  The commissioner or the commissioner's designee has determined that the employee is receiving, substantially, the benefits provided by this chapter, or, in cases subject to subsection (b), in the best interest of the employee; and

          (C)  If the employee was not represented by counsel at a benefit review conference, the settlement agreement shall be reviewed by a specialist within the department who was not associated with the employee's case.

     (2)  Among the parties, a settlement approved by the commissioner pursuant to this subsection (c) shall be entitled to the same standing as a judgment of a court of record for purposes of § 50-6-230 and all other purposes. A settlement approved by the commissioner may be appealed as a final order pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5.

     (3)  (A)  For settlements in which the employee is represented by counsel, the parties shall seek the approval of the department as provided in this subsection (c), unless the parties agree to seek the approval of a court pursuant to subsection (a).

          (B)  For settlements in which the employee is not represented by counsel, the parties shall seek the approval of a court pursuant to subsection (a), unless the parties agree to seek approval from the department pursuant to this subsection (c).

     (4)  The commissioner or the commissioner's designee shall approve or reject settlements submitted to the department within three (3) business days of receiving the settlement. The review and approval or disapproval shall be provided in the regional offices of the division or other location agreed to by the parties and the division. If the commissioner or the designee does not approve or reject the settlement within three (3) business days, either party may submit a copy of the signed settlement to any court with jurisdiction to hear the underlying workers' compensation claim. If the injured employee is not represented by counsel, the review shall be conducted in person.

     (5)  In approving settlements pursuant to this subsection (c), the commissioner or the commissioner's designee shall consider all pertinent factors, including degree of medical impairment, the employee's age, education, skills and training, local job opportunities and capacity to work at types of employment available in the claimant's disabled condition. If the injured employee is not represented by counsel, then the commissioner or the commissioner's designee shall thoroughly inform the employee of the scope of benefits available under this chapter, the employee's rights and the procedures necessary to protect those rights.

[Acts 1919, ch. 123, § 27; Shan. Supp., § 3608a176; Code 1932, § 6877; Acts 1945, ch. 149, § 2; 1947, ch. 139, § 5; C. Supp. 1950, § 6877; Acts 1969, ch. 123, § 1; impl. am. Acts 1980, ch. 534, § 1; Acts 1980, ch. 479, § 1; 1981, ch. 488, § 4; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 50-1006; Acts 1983, ch. 217, §§ 1, 2; 1996, ch. 944, § 14; 1999, ch. 520, § 41; 2002, ch. 695, § 4; 2004, ch. 962, §§ 3, 4, 48.]  

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