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Legal Memorandum: Disability Case Involving Two Injuries

Issue: In a disability case involving two separate injuries, if the monetary amount accepted for the first injury exemplifies 100% disability to the body as a whole, can a person still recover for permanent and total disability of the additional injury, too?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Workers Compensation Insurance
Keywords: Disability case; Two separate injuries; Compensation
Jurisdiction: Tennessee
Cited Cases: 942 S.W.2d 483; 798 S.W.2d 746; 211 Tenn. 347; 938 S.W.2d 383; 152 S.W. 3d 439
Cited Statutes: Tenn. Code § 50-6-208, § 50-6-208(a)(1), § 50-6-208(b)(1)(A), § 50-6-208(b)(1)(C), § 50-6-102(a)(6)(C); Tenn. Workers' Comp. Prac. & Proc. § 20:2
Date: 01/01/2005

 Under the Second Injury Fund statute, Tenn. Code § 50-6-208 (2004), a previously disabled employee who becomes permanently and totally disabled as a result of a subsequent injury is entitled to compensation from his employer or its insurer only for the disability that would have resulted from the subsequent injury, and the remainder of the compensation to which the employee is entitled is paid out of the Second Injury Fund.  Id. § 50-6-208(a)(1).  The language of the statute contemplates a typical scenario in which compensation for the first injury, if work-related (and if an injury at all), has already been established, and only after the second or subsequent injury does the employee become totally and permanently disabled.  In Scales v. City of Oak Ridge, 53 S.W.3d 649 (Tenn. 2001), the court ruled on both of the employee’s injuries, which had occurred about a year apart, at the same time and allocated the damages for both between the employer and the Second Injury Fund; “[t]he fact that these two injuries became part of the same suit, after the trial court consolidated Scales’s separately filed complaints, is irrelevant,” the court explained.  Id. at 652.    

The statute further provides that in cases in which the injured employee will receive a workers’ compensation award for permanent disability to the body as a whole, the employee cannot recover from the employer or its insurer any compensation in excess of 100% permanent disability to the body as a whole after combining the awards.  Tenn. […]

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