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June 2014 Archives

Childhood SSI and Need for Test Results in Psychological Cases

     In determining whether a child qualifies for disability under the Childhood SSI regulations, the SSA decides if the child meets a listing or functionally meets a listing through deficits in any number of six domains of function. When dealing with a mental disorder, whether ADHD, autism, asperger's, intellectual disability (formerly known as mental retardation), the results of psychological testing are very important to the determination of disability. Some important factors from the regulations about testing are:

Tennessee teen dies tragically in a truck accident

During the second week of June, a teenager died tragically after being involved in a motor vehicle accident. The Tennessee truck accident happened shortly after 11 o’clock in front of a truck stop along Highway 46. Although all fatal accidents are tragic, when the victim is so very young it seems so much worse.

Dog that caused personal injury to vet allowed to go home

Tennessee dog owners may benefit from the recommendations of the owners of a dog in another state. After their dog attacked a veterinarian, they advise that all dogs should be muzzled when visiting the vet, as legal proceedings that follow a dog attack could be financially devastating. In fact, it may be wise to muzzle a dog whenever it is taken off one’s property, or in the presence of people other than its owners. Dog bites can cause significant personal injury that may result in substantial medical and other costs.

Filing Social Security Disability Claims During Appeal Revisited

     Often Social Security Disability claimants are confronted with a dilemma after receiving an unfavorable decision from an administrative law judge following a hearing. Does the claimant appeal to the appeal council, which can take a long time and is often unsuccessful, or file a completely new application? Years ago, a claimant could do both. However, the Social Security Administration passed SSR 11-1p in 2011 forcing claimants to choose between appealing or filing a completing new claim under most circumstances. I previously discussed these issues, but now there have been some clarifications by the SSA.

TN Workers' Compensation Claims Harder on July 1, 2014

     Workers' Compensation claims in Tennessee for injuries such as hearing loss and carpal tunnel will become vastly more difficult after July 1, 2014.  As discussed previously, injuries arising out of or in the course and scope of employment in Tennessee on or after July 1, 2014 are going to be treated substantially different under the "reformed" Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act. An example of a substantive change, would be the definition of injury. Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-102 injury definition for accidents on or after July 1, 2014.

2 fatal car accidents in Tennessee within 24-hours

Within 24-hours, two people were killed on Chapman highway. According to people residing in the area, serious car accidents are not uncommon on this particular part of the Tennessee highway. The first crash led to the death of an SUV driver. A full day had not even passed before another person was killed.

Testimony from Psychologists in TN Workers' Compensation Cases

     Often in workers' compensation claims, when the claim involves mental injuries, psychologists are offered by the insurance companies for treatment.  Psychologists are not entitled to give a finding of causation under the act. As the Supreme Court stated in its unreported decision Shelby v. Highways, Inc, 2003 Tenn. Lexis 413 (May 13,2003), "the trial court cannot base a finding of causation solely upon the opinion of a psychologist." Id. at *12 (citing Cigna Property & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Sneed, 772 S.W.2d 422 (Tenn. 1989». The Shelby Court indicated that the holding does not preclude inclusion of all of a psychologists' testimony, but does preclude the psychologist from making statements regarding causation of any given injury. It is well established jurisprudence in the state of Tennessee that causation may only be proven by medical expert testimony, and in Rapier v. Jones Blair Paint, 2002 Tenn. Lexis 428 (Sept. 27,2002), the plaintiffs even conceded that "a psychologist is not competent to render an opinion as to causation and permanency of an injury in workers' compensation cases." See also McCaleb v. Saturn Corp., 910 S.W.2d 412 (Tenn. 1994) and (Argonaut Ins. Co. v. Williams, 580 S.W.2d 784 (Tenn. 1979) (both holding that causation and permanency of injury must be established by expert medical testimony). Tennessee courts have clearly stated that "while a clinical psychologist may have valuable testimony to offer, such testimony is not competent in a workers' compensation case on the issues of causation or permanence of medical impairment." Skelton v. Robertshaw Controls Co., 1998 WL 740855 (Tenn. Workers Compo Panel Oct. 26, 1998). Further, the Tennessee Supreme Court in Freemon V. VF Corp, Kay Windsor Div., 675 S.W.2d 710 (1984) expressly held that a psychologist was not a medical doctor and was not qualified to establish permanence in a workers compensation case.

Workplace injury -- 77 percent of agricultural cases not reported

Agricultural workplace injuries and illnesses are much more prevalent than what government statistics suggest. A workplace injury is something that both employers and employees should always take serious. A recent study has shown that the governmental agencies in charge of tracking workplace injuries are off by about 77 percent. According to the researcher, there are a number of reasons why there is such a big discrepancy between the number of reported injuries and the number of actual injuries suffered by agricultural workers in Tennessee and all across the country.

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