2019 Tennessee Code
Title 50 - Employer and Employee
Chapter 6 - Workers' Compensation Law
Part 1 - General Provisions
§ 50-6-102. Chapter definitions.

Universal Citation: TN Code § 50-6-102 (2019)
  • As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
    • (1) “Administrator” means the chief administrative officer of the bureau of workers' compensation of the department of labor and workforce development;

    • (2) “AMA guides” means the 6th edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, American Medical Association, until a new edition is designated by the general assembly in accordance with § 50-6-204(k)(2)(A). The edition that is in effect on the date the employee is injured is the edition that shall be applicable to the claim;

    • (3)

      • (A) “Average weekly wages” means the earnings of the injured employee in the employment in which the injured employee was working at the time of the injury during the period of fifty-two (52) weeks immediately preceding the date of the injury divided by fifty-two (52); but if the injured employee lost more than seven (7) days during the period when the injured employee did not work, although not in the same week, then the earnings for the remainder of the fifty-two (52) weeks shall be divided by the number of weeks remaining after the time so lost has been deducted;

      • (B) Where the employment prior to the injury extended over a period of less than fifty-two (52) weeks, the method of dividing the earnings during that period by the number of weeks and parts of weeks during which the employee earned wages shall be followed; provided, that results just and fair to both parties will be obtained;

      • (C) Where, by reason of the shortness of the time during which the employee has been in the employment of the employer, it is impracticable to compute the average weekly wages as defined in this subdivision (3), regard shall be had to the average weekly amount that, during the first fifty-two (52) weeks prior to the injury or death, was being earned by a person in the same grade, employed at the same work by the same employer, and if there is no such person so employed, by a person in the same grade employed in the same class of employment in the same district;

      • (D) Wherever allowances of any character made to any employee in lieu of wages are specified as part of the wage contract, they shall be deemed a part of the employee's earnings;

    • (4) [Deleted by 2013 amendment, effective July 1, 2014.]

    • (5) “Bureau” or “bureau of workers' compensation” means the bureau of workers' compensation of the department of labor and workforce development;

    • (6) “Case management” means medical case management or the ongoing coordination of medical care services provided to an injured or disabled employee on all cases where medical care expenses are expected to exceed a threshold;

    • (7) “Commissioner” means the commissioner of labor and workforce development;

    • (8) “Construction design professional” means:

      • (A) Any person possessing a valid registration or license entitling that person to practice the technical profession of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture or land surveying in this state;

      • (B) Any corporation, partnership, firm or other legal entity authorized by law to engage in the technical profession of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture or land surveying in this state; or

      • (C) Any person, firm or corporation providing interior space planning or design in this state;

    • (9) “Court of workers' compensation claims” means the adjudicative function within the bureau of workers' compensation;

    • (10) “Department” means the department of labor and workforce development;

    • (11) [Deleted by 2015 amendment, effective May 4, 2015.]

    • (12)

      • (A) “Employee” includes every person, including a minor, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, the president, any vice president, secretary, treasurer or other executive officer of a corporate employer without regard to the nature of the duties of the corporate officials, in the service of an employer, as employer is defined in subdivision (13), under any contract of hire or apprenticeship, written or implied. Any reference in this chapter to an employee who has been injured shall, where the employee is dead, also include the employee's legal representatives, dependents and other persons to whom compensation may be payable under this chapter;

      • (B) “Employee” includes a sole proprietor, a partner, or a member of a limited liability company who devotes full time to the proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company, respectively, and who elects to be included in the definition of “employee” by filing written notice of the election on a form prescribed by the bureau with the insurer or, if there is no insurer, with the partnership, proprietorship, or limited liability company at least thirty (30) days before the occurrence of any injury or death. Such a proprietor, partner, or member may at any time withdraw the election by giving notice of the withdrawal to the insurer or, if there is no insurer, with the partnership, proprietorship, or limited liability company. Such a partner, proprietor, or limited liability company may at any time revoke the election for the term of the policy by giving notice in the same manner. Notification given pursuant to this subdivision (12)(B) does not become effective until it is filed with the proper entity;

      • (C) The provisions of this subdivision (12) allowing a sole proprietor or a partner to elect to come under this chapter shall not be construed to deny coverage of the sole proprietor or partner under any individual or group accident and sickness policy the sole proprietor or partner may have in effect, in cases where the sole proprietor or partner has elected not to be covered by this chapter, for injuries sustained by the sole proprietor or partner that would have been covered by this chapter had the election been made, notwithstanding any provision of the accident and sickness policy to the contrary. Nothing in this section shall require coverage of occupational injuries or sicknesses, if occupational injuries or sicknesses are not covered under the terms of the policy without reference to eligibility for workers' compensation benefits;

      • (D)

        • (i) In a work relationship, in order to determine whether an individual is an “employee,” or whether an individual is a “subcontractor” or an “independent contractor,” the following factors shall be considered:

          • (a) The right to control the conduct of the work;

          • (b) The right of termination;

          • (c) The method of payment;

          • (d) The freedom to select and hire helpers;

          • (e) The furnishing of tools and equipment;

          • (f) Self-scheduling of working hours; and

          • (g) The freedom to offer services to other entities; and

        • (ii) A premium shall not be charged by an insurance company for any individual determined to be an independent contractor pursuant to this subdivision (12)(D);

      • (E) “Employee” does not include a construction services provider, as defined in § 50-6-901, if the construction services provider is:

        • (i) Listed on the registry established pursuant to part 9 of this chapter as having a workers' compensation exemption and is working in the service of the business entity through which the provider obtained such an exemption;

        • (ii) Not covered under a policy of workers' compensation insurance maintained by the person or entity for whom the provider is providing services; and

        • (iii) Rendering services on a construction project that:

          • (a) Is not a commercial construction project, as defined in § 50-6-901; or

          • (b) Is a commercial construction project, as defined in § 50-6-901, and the general contractor for whom the construction services provider renders construction services complies with § 50-6-914(b)(2);

    • (13) “Employer” includes any individual, firm, association or corporation, the receiver or trustee of the individual, firm, association or corporation, or the legal representative of a deceased employer, using the services of not less than five (5) persons for pay, except as provided in § 50-6-902, and, in the case of an employer engaged in the mining and production of coal, one (1) employee for pay. If the employer is insured, it shall include the employer's insurer, unless otherwise provided in this chapter;

    • (14) “Injury” and “personal injury” mean an injury by accident, a mental injury, occupational disease including diseases of the heart, lung and hypertension, or cumulative trauma conditions including hearing loss, carpal tunnel syndrome or any other repetitive motion conditions, arising primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment, that causes death, disablement or the need for medical treatment of the employee; provided, that:

      • (A) An injury is “accidental” only if the injury is caused by a specific incident, or set of incidents, arising primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment, and is identifiable by time and place of occurrence, and shall not include the aggravation of a preexisting disease, condition or ailment unless it can be shown to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the aggravation arose primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment;

      • (B) An injury “arises primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment” only if it has been shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the employment contributed more than fifty percent (50%) in causing the injury, considering all causes;

      • (C) An injury causes death, disablement or the need for medical treatment only if it has been shown to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that it contributed more than fifty percent (50%) in causing the death, disablement or need for medical treatment, considering all causes;

      • (D) “Shown to a reasonable degree of medical certainty” means that, in the opinion of the physician, it is more likely than not considering all causes, as opposed to speculation or possibility;

      • (E) The opinion of the treating physician, selected by the employee from the employer's designated panel of physicians pursuant to § 50-6-204(a)(3), shall be presumed correct on the issue of causation but this presumption shall be rebuttable by a preponderance of the evidence;

    • (15)

      • (A) “Maximum total benefit” means the sum of all weekly benefits to which a worker may be entitled;

      • (B) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1992, but before July 1, 2009, the maximum total benefit shall be four hundred (400) weeks times the maximum weekly benefit, except in instances of permanent total disability;

      • (C) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2009, but before July 1, 2014, the maximum total benefit shall be four hundred (400) weeks times one hundred percent (100%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined pursuant to subdivision (16)(B), except in instances of permanent total disability. Temporary total disability benefits paid to the injured worker shall not be included in calculating the maximum total benefit;

      • (D) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2014, the maximum total benefit shall be four hundred fifty (450) weeks times one hundred percent (100%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined pursuant to subdivision (16)(B), except in instances of permanent total disability. Temporary total disability benefits paid to the injured worker before the employee attains maximum medical improvement shall not be included in calculating the maximum total benefit;

    • (16)

      • (A)

        • (i) “Maximum weekly benefit” means the maximum compensation payable to the worker per week;

        • (ii) For injuries occurring between July 1, 1990, and June 30, 1991, the maximum weekly benefit shall be two hundred seventy-three dollars ($273) per week;

        • (iii) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1991, and before August 1, 1992, the maximum weekly benefit shall be two hundred ninety-four dollars ($294) per week;

        • (iv) For injuries occurring on or after August 1, 1992, and through June 30, 1993, the maximum weekly benefit shall be sixty-six and two thirds percent (66 ⅔%) of the employee's average weekly wage up to seventy-eight percent (78%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined by the department;

        • (v) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1993, and through June 30, 1994, the maximum weekly benefit shall be sixty-six and two thirds percent (66 ⅔%) of the employee's average weekly wage up to eighty-two and four-tenths percent (82.4%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined by the department;

        • (vi) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1994, and through June 30, 1995, the maximum weekly benefit shall be sixty-six and two thirds percent (66 ⅔%) of the employee's average weekly wage up to eighty-six and eight-tenths percent (86.8%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined by the department;

        • (vii) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1995, and through June 30, 1996, the maximum weekly benefit shall be sixty-six and two thirds percent (66 ⅔%) of the employee's average weekly wage up to ninety-one and two-tenths percent (91.2%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined by the department;

        • (viii) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1996, and through June 30, 1997, the maximum weekly benefit shall be sixty-six and two thirds percent (66 ⅔%) of the employee's average weekly wage up to ninety-five and six-tenths percent (95.6%) of the state's average weekly wage as determined by the department;

        • (ix) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 1997, and through June 30, 2004, the maximum weekly benefit shall be sixty-six and two thirds percent (66 ⅔%) of the employee's average weekly wage up to one hundred percent (100%) of the state's average weekly wage as determined by the department;

        • (x) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2004, the maximum weekly benefit for permanent disability benefits shall be sixty-six and two thirds percent (66 ⅔%) of the employee's average weekly wage up to one hundred percent (100%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined by the department; and

        • (xi)

          • (a) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2004, through June 30, 2005, the maximum weekly benefit for temporary disability benefits shall be sixty-six and two thirds percent (66 ⅔%) of the employee's average weekly wage up to one hundred five percent (105%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined by the department; and

          • (b) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2005, the maximum weekly benefit for temporary disability benefits shall be sixty-six and two thirds percent (66 ⅔%) of the employee's average weekly wage up to one hundred ten percent (110%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined by the department;

      • (B) As used in subdivision (15), the state average weekly wage shall be determined as of the preceding January 1, and shall be adjusted annually using the data from the bureau and shall be effective on July 1 of each year;

    • (17) “Mental injury” means a loss of mental faculties or a mental or behavioral disorder, arising primarily out of a compensable physical injury or an identifiable work related event resulting in a sudden or unusual stimulus, and shall not include a psychological or psychiatric response due to the loss of employment or employment opportunities;

    • (18) “Minimum weekly benefit” means the minimum compensation per week payable to the worker, which shall be fifteen percent (15%) of the state's average weekly wage, as determined by the department;

    • (19) “Specialty practice group” means a group of Tennessee licensed physicians, surgeons, or chiropractors providing medical care services of the same or similar medical specialty as each other and operating out of the same physical location; and

    • (20) “Utilization review” means evaluation of the necessity, appropriateness, efficiency and quality of medical care services, including the prescribing of one (1) or more Schedule II, III, or IV controlled substances for pain management for a period of time exceeding ninety (90) days from the initial prescription of such controlled substances, provided to an injured or disabled employee based on medically accepted standards and an objective evaluation of those services provided; provided, that “utilization review” does not include the establishment of approved payment levels, a review of medical charges or fees, or an initial evaluation of an injured or disabled employee by a physician specializing in pain management.

    • (21) [Deleted by 2013 amendment, effective July 1, 2014.]

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