Tennessee Department of Labor Suggests “Structural” Changes to Workers’ Comp Program

by mdp | October 8th, 2012

disability_benefitsTennessee Governor Bill Haslam has announced plans to propose legislation related to workers’ comp reform, drawing from a new report released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The report recommends a “structural” change to the Tennessee workers’ compensation system – which would effectively move the system out of the courts – and makes a series of other recommendations to streamline the program, in an effort to reduce costs, improve accountability, and get workers back on the job sooner after a workplace injury. TN workers’ compensation laws were established to protect the rights of injured workers in Tennessee, and workers’ comp reform could significantly affect those who suffer on-the-job injuries in the state. If you have been injured on the job in Tennessee, contact our workers’ comp lawyers at Michael D. Ponce & Associates today.

Tennessee Workers’ Comp System Up for Change

Legislation to change workers’ compensation laws in Tennessee could face resistance from worker advocates, who believe the courts provide critical protections for injured workers. In the current workers’ comp system, disputes over benefits for injured workers are required to go through a state administrative process and can ultimately land in the Tennessee court system. The Department of Labor report however, recommends a stronger administrative system with specialized judges that would have the final say in the case. A workers’ comp case could still land in the judicial system under this reform, at the discretion of the Tennessee Supreme Court, but the current court proceedings would be removed from the process altogether.

Contact Our Workers’ Comp Lawyers for Help

In addition to these changes, the Department of Labor report also advises against an “opt-out” provision that would allow employers to leave the state workers’ comp system. Employers who opt out of state coverage would either join a federal workers’ compensation plan, form their own program, or risk litigation for not having workers’ comp protections in place. In the meantime, worker advocates argue that there are ways that the Tennessee workers’ compensation system can be reformed to benefit both employers and employees, without getting rid of critical protections for injured workers. If you have suffered injuries in a workplace accident in Tennessee, you may be entitled to medical or disability benefits for your medical bills and missed time at work. Contact our workers’ compensation attorneys at Michael D. Ponce & Associates today to discuss your legal options.