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Tennessee Workers' Compensation Reform Act of 2013

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Why Do We Need Reform?

  • Governor Haslam is committed to making Tennessee the #1 state in the Southeast for high-quality jobs, and making Tennessee an attractive environment for businesses to locate and grow is the key to reaching that goal.
  • An important step in improving Tennessee's business climate is making our workers' compensation system more efficient.
  • Tennessee is one of only two states that currently adjudicate workers' compensation claims in the trial courts.  This often delays benefits to workers and produces inconsistent results.
  • According to the Workers' Compensation Research Institute's 2012 benchmarking report on medical fee schedules, Tennessee's medical costs related to workers' compensation are higher than the average state's costs.
  • The current process for determining benefits is cumbersome, unpredictable and time-consuming, and employees often are unable to receive benefits and return to work in a timely manner.
  • Tennessee's workers' compensation system, established in 1919, was originally drafted to give an advantage to one side in disputes.

What is Being Proposed

  • Governor Haslam has proposed legislation that will update this antiquated system and create a more competitive business environment in the state while fairly compensating employees for their injuries in a timely manner and getting them back to work as soon as possible.
  • The proposed system will allow employees to file their claims in a newly created Court of Workers' Compensation Claims within the Division of Workers' Compensation in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
  • The proposal creates a new Ombudsman program within the Division to help employees and employers who are unrepresented get the assistance they need.
  • The proposal provides for a neutral construction of the workers' compensation law so that neither side has an unfair advantage.
  • The proposal provides a clearer standard for causation that requires that the injury arose primarily out of employment rather than non-work related activities.

How will the changes help employees and employers?

  • The proposed reforms will create a system that is fair, efficient, and provide better outcomes for both employees and employers.
  • Employees will receive benefits faster and in a manner that is easier to calculate, and they will be able to return to work sooner.
  • Employers will have a fairer, more predictable environment in which to conduct business and create jobs.
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