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Industry Insights

Headrick: Clearing Up a Common Misconception

  • State: Tennessee

Merriam-Webster defines misconception as “a wrong or mistaken idea.”

Judge Audrey Headrick

Judge Audrey Headrick

For years, I, like others, believed that Twinkies stay fresh forever. In fact, the shelf life of a Twinkie is only 25 days! To this day, that’s a common misconception.

Another common misconception is that parties need to file multiple petitions for benefit determination. Attorneys often announce during a hearing that they intend to file “another PBD.” Or a glance at TNComp shows that one or both sides filed multiple petitions. Sometimes, a party refiles the same petition.

Don’t worry. You’re not alone if you’re guilty of filing multiple petitions.

Long ago, the Tennessee Bureau of Workers' Compensation encouraged filing multiple petitions either to amend a petition or to address a new issue. That process often resulted in multiple mediations ending in settlement, issuance of a dispute resolution statement or issuance of a dispute certification notice.

As Chief Judge Switzer recently posted in his blog article, “Beginning March 25, 2024, all mediations in cases pending before the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims will conclude with the issuance of a dispute certification notice.” Mediators will no longer issue dispute resolution statements.

This important change means that you no longer need to file multiple petitions unless a rule or statute requires you to do so. For example, filing a second petition is necessary in the following situations:

  • A petition for benefit determination for settlement approval only, using the original docket number, is required for any post-settlement issue that arises.
  • A petition for benefit determination, using the original docket number, is required to seek increased benefits.
  • A petition for benefit determination is required after either a voluntary dismissal or a dismissal without prejudice.
  • A petition for benefit determination is required when a party disputes the medical director’s decision on utilization review.

Otherwise, you may simply file a motion to amend the petition and/or to include new issues that arise.

So don’t file more than one petition unless it’s required that you do so. And throw out those old Twinkies.

Audrey Headrick is a judge in the Tennessee Court of Workers' Compensation Claims, Chattanooga. This entry is republished with permission from the court's blog.

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