2010 Tennessee Code
Title 50 - Employer And Employee
Chapter 6 - Workers' Compensation Law
Part 2 - Claims and Payment of Compensation
50-6-241 - Maximum permanent partial disability award for causes arising on or after August 1, 1992 Reconsideration of industrial disability issue Awards for claims arising after July 1, 2004 Public policy regarding legal immigration.

50-6-241. Maximum permanent partial disability award for causes arising on or after August 1, 1992 Reconsideration of industrial disability issue Awards for claims arising after July 1, 2004 Public policy regarding legal immigration.

(a)  (1)  For injuries arising on or after August 1, 1992, and prior to July 1, 2004, in cases where an injured employee is eligible to receive any permanent partial disability benefits, pursuant to § 50-6-207(3)(A)(i) and (F), and the pre-injury employer returns the employee to employment at a wage equal to or greater than the wage the employee was receiving at the time of injury, the maximum permanent partial disability award that the employee may receive is two and one-half (2½) times the medical impairment rating determined pursuant to the provisions of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (American Medical Association), the Manual for Orthopedic Surgeons in Evaluating Permanent Physical Impairment (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons), or in cases not covered by either of these, an impairment rating by any appropriate method used and accepted by the medical community. In making determinations, the court shall consider all pertinent factors, including lay and expert testimony, employee's age, education, skills and training, local job opportunities, and capacity to work at types of employment available in claimant's disabled condition.

     (2)  In accordance with this section, the courts may reconsider, upon the filing of a new cause of action, the issue of industrial disability. Such reconsideration shall examine all pertinent factors, including lay and expert testimony, employee's age, education, skills and training, local job opportunities, and capacity to work at types of employment available in claimant's disabled condition. The reconsideration may be made in appropriate cases where the employee is no longer employed by the pre-injury employer and makes application to the appropriate court within one (1) year of the employee's loss of employment, if the loss of employment is within four hundred (400) weeks of the day the employee returned to work. In enlarging a previous award, the court must give the employer credit for prior benefits paid to the employee in permanent partial disability benefits, and any new award remains subject to the maximum established in subsection (b).

(b)  Subject to the factors provided in subsection (a), in cases for injuries on or after August 1, 1992, and prior to July 1, 2004, where an injured employee is eligible to receive permanent partial disability benefits, pursuant to § 50-6-207(3)(A)(i) and (F), and the pre-injury employer does not return the employee to employment at a wage equal to or greater than the wage the employee was receiving at the time of injury, the maximum permanent partial disability award that the employee may receive is six (6) times the medical impairment rating determined pursuant to the provisions of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (American Medical Association), the Manual for Orthopedic Surgeons in Evaluating Permanent Physical Impairment (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons), or in cases not covered by either of these, an impairment rating by any appropriate method used and accepted by the medical community. In making such determinations, the court shall consider all pertinent factors, including lay and expert testimony, employee's age, education, skills and training, local job opportunities, and capacity to work at types of employment available in claimant's disabled condition.

(c)  The multipliers established by subsections (a) and (b) are intended to be maximum limits. If the court awards a multiplier of five (5) or greater, then the court shall make specific findings of fact detailing the reasons for awarding the maximum impairment. In making the determinations, the court shall consider all pertinent factors, including lay and expert testimony, employee's age, education, skills and training, local job opportunities, and capacity to work at types of employment available in claimant's disabled condition.

(d)  (1)  (A)  For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2004, in cases in which an injured employee is eligible to receive any permanent partial disability benefits either for body as a whole or for schedule member injuries, except schedule member injuries specified in § 50-6-207(3)(A)(ii)(a )-(l ), (n ), (q ), and (r ), and the pre-injury employer returns the employee to employment at a wage equal to or greater than the wage the employee was receiving at the time of the injury, the maximum permanent partial disability benefits that the employee may receive is one and one half (1½) times the medical impairment rating determined pursuant to the provisions of § 50-6-204(d)(3). In making the determinations, the court shall consider all pertinent factors, including lay and expert testimony, the employee's age, education, skills and training, local job opportunities and capacity to work at types of employment available in claimant's disabled condition.

          (B)  (i)  If an injured employee receives benefits for body as a whole injuries pursuant to subdivision (d)(1)(A) and the employee is subsequently no longer employed by the pre-injury employer at the wage specified in subdivision (d)(1)(A) within four hundred (400) weeks of the day the employee returned to work for the pre-injury employer, the employee may seek reconsideration of the permanent partial disability benefits.

                (ii)  If an injured employee receives benefits for schedule member injuries pursuant to subdivision (d)(1)(A), and the employee is subsequently no longer employed by the pre-injury employer at the wage specified in subdivision (d)(1)(A), the employee may seek reconsideration of the permanent partial disability benefits. The right to seek the reconsideration shall extend for the number of weeks for which the employee was eligible to receive benefits under § 50-6-207, beginning with the day the employee returned to work for the pre-injury employer.

                (iii)  Notwithstanding the provisions of this subdivision (d)(1)(B), under no circumstances shall an employee be entitled to reconsideration when the loss of employment is due to either:

                     (a)  The employee's voluntary resignation or retirement; provided, however, that the resignation or retirement does not result from the work-related disability that is the subject of such reconsideration; or

                     (b)  The employee's misconduct connected with the employee's employment.

                (iv)  To seek reconsideration pursuant to subdivision (d)(B)(i) or (d)(B)(ii), the employee shall first request a benefit review conference within one (1) year of the date on which the employee ceased to be employed by the pre-injury employer. If the parties are not able to reach an agreement regarding additional permanent partial disability benefits at the benefit review conference, the employee shall be entitled to file a complaint seeking reconsideration in a court of competent jurisdiction within ninety (90) days of the date of the benefit review conference. Any settlement or award of additional permanent partial disability benefits pursuant to reconsideration shall give the employer credit for prior permanent partial disability benefits paid to the employee. Any new settlement or award regarding additional permanent partial disability benefits remains subject to the maximum established in subdivision (d)(2) and shall be based on the medical impairment rating that was the basis of the previous settlement or award.

                (v)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, an employee shall not be permitted to waive or forfeit, and the parties shall not be permitted to compromise and settle, the employee's rights to reconsideration pursuant to this section.

          (C)  (i)  Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, for injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2009, if an injured employee receives permanent partial disability benefits for body as a whole injuries or if the injured employee receives permanent partial disability benefits for schedule member injuries pursuant to subdivision (d)(1)(A) and the pre-injury employer is sold or acquired subsequent to the receipt of the permanent partial disability benefits, then the injured employee shall not be entitled to seek reconsideration:

                     (a)  Provided, that the injured employee continues to be employed by the successor employer at the same or higher pay; or

                     (b)  If the employee declines an offer of employment with the successor employer at the same or higher pay.

                (ii)  Notwithstanding subdivision (d)(1)(C)(i), an injured employee shall be entitled to seek reconsideration:

                     (a)  From the successor employer within four hundred (400) weeks of the day the employee returned to work for the pre-injury employer, if the injured employee received permanent partial disability benefits for body as a whole injuries from the pre-injury employer pursuant to subdivision (d)(1)(A) and the injured employee is no longer employed by the successor employer at the same or higher pay; or

                     (b)  From the successor employer within the number of weeks for which the employee was eligible to receive benefits from the pre-injury employer under § 50-6-207, to be calculated from the day the employee returned to work for the pre-injury employer, if the injured employee received permanent partial disability benefits for schedule member injuries from the pre-injury employer pursuant to subdivision (d)(1)(A) and the injured employee is no longer employed by the successor employer at the same or higher pay.

                (iii)  Any additional permanent partial disability benefits to which the injured employee is entitled pursuant to subdivision (d)(1)(C)(ii) shall be paid by the successor employer or the insurance carrier for the successor employer.

                (iv)  If an injured employee is entitled to seek reconsideration pursuant to this subdivision (d)(1)(C), then the employee shall first request a benefit review conference within one (1) year of the date on which the employee ceased to be employed by the successor employer. If the parties are not able to reach an agreement regarding additional permanent partial disability benefits at the benefit review conference, then the employee shall be entitled to file a complaint against the successor employer seeking reconsideration in a court of competent jurisdiction within ninety (90) days of the date of the benefit review conference. Any settlement or award of additional permanent partial disability benefits pursuant to reconsideration shall give the successor employer credit for the prior permanent partial disability benefits paid by the pre-injury employer to the employee. Any new settlement or award regarding additional permanent partial disability benefits shall be subject to the maximum established in subdivision (d)(2).

     (2)  (A)  For injuries arising on or after July 1, 2004, in cases in which the pre-injury employer did not return the injured employee to employment at a wage equal to or greater than the wage the employee was receiving at the time of the injury, the maximum permanent partial disability benefits that the employee may receive for body as a whole and schedule member injuries subject to subdivision (d)(1)(A) may not exceed six (6) times the medical impairment rating determined pursuant to the provisions of § 50-6-204(d)(3). The maximum permanent partial disability benefits to which the employee is entitled shall be computed utilizing the appropriate maximum number of weeks as set forth in § 50-6-207 for the type of injury sustained by the employee. In making such determinations, the court shall consider all pertinent factors, including lay and expert testimony, the employee's age, education, skills and training, local job opportunities, and capacity to work at types of employment available in claimant's disabled condition.

          (B)  If the court awards a permanent partial disability percentage that equals or exceeds five (5) times the medical impairment rating, the court shall include specific findings of fact in the order that detail the reasons for awarding the maximum permanent partial disability.

(e)  (1)  It is the intent of the general assembly to adopt as public policy for this state specific provisions related to workers' compensation to preserve the tradition of legal immigration while seeking to close the door to illegal workers in this state and to encourage the employers of this state to comply with federal immigration laws in the hiring or continued employment of individuals who are not eligible or authorized to work in the United States.

     (2)  The general assembly takes notice that federal law prohibits a pre-injury employer from permitting an employee to return to work following the work-related injury when the employee is not eligible or authorized to work in the United States pursuant to federal immigration laws; and, therefore, the general assembly adopts the following as the compensation to which such an employee is entitled for permanent partial disability benefits:

          (A)  For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2009, in cases in which an injured employee is eligible to receive any permanent partial disability benefits either for body as whole or schedule member injuries, the maximum permanent partial disability benefits that the employee may receive is up to one and one half (1 ½) times the medical impairment rating determined pursuant to § 50-6-204(d)(3); provided, that the employer did not knowingly hire the employee at a time when the employee was not eligible or authorized to work in the United States under federal immigration laws. It shall be presumed the employer did not knowingly hire the employee at a time when the employee was not eligible or authorized to work in the United States under federal immigration laws if the employer can show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the employer in good faith complied with the employment eligibility and identity verification requirements of federal law when the employee was hired:

                (i)  By ensuring the employee completed Section 1 of Form I-9 at the time the employee started to work;

                (ii)  By reviewing the documents provided by the employee to establish the employee's identity and eligibility to work;

                (iii)  By making a good faith determination that the documents presented by the employee for employment and identity authorization appeared to relate to the employee, appeared to be genuine and that the documents provided were in the list of acceptable documents on Form I-9; and

                (iv)  By reverifying the employment eligibility of the employee upon the expiration of the employee's work authorization and by completing Section 3 of Form I-9, if applicable;

          (B)  The presumption established in subdivision (e)(2)(A) may be rebutted if the employee can show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the employer had actual knowledge of the ineligible or unauthorized status of the employee at the time of hire or at the time of the injury, or both. If the presumption is rebutted, a sum of up to five (5) times the medical impairment rating determined by the authorized treating physician pursuant to § 50-6-204(d)(3) shall be paid in the following manner:

                (i)  A sum up to one and one half (1 ½) times the medical impairment rating shall be paid in a lump sum to the employee, the sum to be paid by the employer's insurer; and

                (ii)  An additional sum up to three and one half (3 ½) times the medical impairment rating shall be paid by the employer, in a lump sum into, and shall become a part of, the uninsured employers fund created by § 50-6-801; provided, that the sum shall not be paid by the employer's insurer.

[Acts 1992, ch. 900, § 16; 2004, ch. 962, §§ 9, 10, 11; 2009, ch. 364, § 1; 2009, ch. 526, § 1.]  

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