2010 Tennessee Code
Title 50 - Employer And Employee
Chapter 6 - Workers' Compensation Law
Part 2 - Claims and Payment of Compensation
50-6-226 - Fees of attorneys and physicians, and hospital charges.

50-6-226. Fees of attorneys and physicians, and hospital charges.

(a)  (1)  The fees of attorneys for services to employees under this chapter, shall be subject to the approval of the commissioner or the court before which the matter is pending, as appropriate; provided, that no attorney's fees to be charged employees shall be in excess of twenty percent (20%) of the amount of the recovery or award to be paid by the party employing the attorney. All attorney's fees for attorneys representing employers shall be subject to review for reasonableness of the fee and shall be subject to approval by a court when the fee exceeds ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

     (2)  (A)  Medical costs that have been voluntarily paid by the employer or its insurer shall not be included in determining the award for purposes of calculating the attorney's fee.

          (B)  For cases submitted to the department for approval pursuant to § 50-6-206(c) that are resolved prior to trial or pursuant to a benefit review conference, the department shall deem the attorney's fee to be reasonable if the fee does not exceed twenty percent (20%) of the award to the injured worker, or, in cases governed by § 50-6-207(4), twenty percent (20%) of the first four hundred (400) weeks of the award.

          (C)  In cases that proceed to trial, an employee's attorney shall file an application for approval of a proposed attorney's fee. Where the award of an attorney's fee exceeds ten thousand dollars ($10,000), the court shall make specific findings as to the factors that justify the fee as provided in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8, RPC 1.5.

          (D)  The final order or settlement in all workers' compensation cases shall set out the attorney portion of the award in both dollar and percentage terms and the required findings.

     (3)  In accident cases that result in death of an employee, the plaintiff's attorney's fees shall not exceed reasonable payment for actual time and expenses incurred when the employer makes a voluntary settlement offer in writing to dependents or survivors eligible under § 50-6-210 within thirty (30) days of the employee's death if the employer offers to provide the dependents or survivors with all the benefits provided under this chapter. The approving authority shall review and approve the settlements on an expedited basis.

     (4)  The fees of physicians and charges of hospitals for services to employees under this chapter, shall be subject to the approval of the commissioner or the court before which the matter is pending, as appropriate, as provided in this subdivision (a)(4). Unless a medical fee or charge is contested, the department shall deem it to be reasonable. If a fee or charge is contested, the department shall permit a party to seek review only of the contested fee or charge in any court with jurisdiction to hear a matter pursuant to § 50-6-225. A court may review the case solely for the purpose of approving the fees and charges that are reasonable.

(b)  The charging or receiving of any fee by an attorney in violation of subsection (a) shall be deemed unlawful practice and render the attorney liable to disbarment; and, further, the attorney shall forfeit double the entire amount retained by the attorney, to be recovered as in case of debt by the injured person or the injured person's creditor.

(c)  (1)  The fees charged to the claimant by the treating physician or a specialist to whom the employee was referred for giving testimony by oral deposition relative to the claim shall, unless the interests of justice require otherwise, be considered a part of the costs of the case, to be charged against the employer when the employee is the prevailing party.

     (2)  The trial judge shall have the discretion to determine the reasonableness of the fee charged by any physician pursuant to the provisions of this subsection (c).

     (3)  The provisions of this subsection (c) apply only to workers' compensation actions arising on or after July 1, 1988.

[Acts 1919, ch. 123, § 33; Shan. Supp., § 3608a183; Code 1932, §§ 6886, 6887; Acts 1957, ch. 121, § 1; 1963, ch. 333, § 2; impl. am. Acts 1980, ch. 534, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), §§ 50-1019, 50-1020; Acts 1988, ch. 865, §§ 1-3; 1996, ch. 944, § 17; 1999, ch. 520, § 41; 2003, ch. 112, § 4; 2007, ch. 300, §§ 2, 3.]  

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