NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) now uses an innovative new system that allows attorneys and self-represented litigants to file documents without printing copies or traveling to BWC offices across the state.
The new TNComp electronic filing system allows all parties to file contested case pleadings in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.
Since BWC started its trial and appellate courts in 2014, both litigants and counsel have had the convenience of filing documents via email. The process was not as convenient or efficient for BWC staff that had to print each emailed document, file-stamp the document and then enter the information into the BWC database. The manual filing process took between 24 and 48 hours to complete.
“With approximately 1,000 documents filed per month in our court alone, we had to move in this direction,” said Penny Shrum, clerk of the court for the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims. BWC modeled TNComp after the PACER platform used by the federal court system, but tailored it to meet the needs of Tennessee.
Attorneys and litigants can now electronically file documents any time of the day, they can view any documents associated with the case, they receive notices when a new document is filed, and reminders of upcoming hearings. All of the services offered on TNComp are provided to the user at no cost.
“The court’s core values include striving for excellence and constant improvement,” said Kenneth M. Switzer of Nashville, Chief Judge of the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims. “TNComp is a primary example of our commitment, making court business more efficient for everyone throughout the process.”
It took nearly three years to develop TNComp into a user-friendly, intuitive system. The courts first implemented TNComp internally, so staff could train for two months, ensuring a smooth and problem-free launch to the public.
“Since the passage of the Reform Act of 2013, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has focused its efforts on providing the best court systems possible for workers’ compensation claims,” said Abbie Hudgens, BWC administrator. “This new platform is a long-awaited element to improving the effectiveness of the court process, and we are pleased that we can offer it to the public now.”
Attorneys and litigants with cases where a BWC mediator has filed a dispute certification after November 1, 2017 can now access the TNComp system. Cases prior to that date will continue to use the former system to file documents. “It’s great to see an innovative effort like this come to fruition and produce the desired results of greater convenience and efficiency.” Appeals Board Presiding Judge Marshall Davidson said.