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by Michael Ponce | April 11, 2013

disability_benefitsA bill to adopt massive changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system was approved by the House on April 11, and opponents claim the measure will only hurt injured workers in Tennessee. The legislation passed the House with an overwhelming 67-24 vote, and will advance next to Governor Bill Haslam for a signature after going back to the Senate for concurrence because of a minor change. If you have suffered injuries in a workplace accident in Tennessee, it’s important that you understand how the changes to TN’s workers’ compensation system proposed in this bill could affect you. Contact our reputable attorneys at Michael D. Ponce & Associates to discuss your compensation options.

Reduced Benefits for Injured Workers

Although TN Governor Bill Haslam claims the legislation is necessary to create a fair system for business, ensure predictability of injury costs for insurance companies, and improve efficiency in delivery of medical and disability benefits, opponents of the bill say it will only make hard-working families in Tennessee suffer. According to an analysis of data from the Tennessee Department of Labor, workers who do not return to work for their employer at the time of an on-the-job injury will see a 60-75% reduction in disability benefits. For those injured workers in Tennessee who are able to return to work for the pre-injury employer, benefits will reportedly be reduced 25-42%.

Haslam claims that the bill would benefit workers and lower employer costs, while it will really remove workers’ compensation claims from state courts and put them under the control of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, limit the types of injuries covered by workers’ comp benefits, and dramatically reduce payments to injured workers. With this proposed measure, Haslam claims he is trying to create “a fair playing field,” but the governor is the one who will appoint the director of the agency to oversee workers’ compensation claims, who will then be responsible for reviewing all decisions, hand-selecting the administrative judges and determining what injuries are covered.

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys Today

According to Nashville Rep. Mike Turner, “We’re taking money out of the workers’ pocket. That’s not right. It’s not fair. We’re going to pass the savings onto business people.” As Mary Mancini, director of the pro-labor Tennessee Citizen Action, puts it, “the House of Representatives has clearly shown that instead of being on the side of protecting the hardworking Tennesseans who elected them, they are on the side of special interests like big insurance companies and large corporations who already benefit from so many tax loopholes and giveaways.” If you have been injured in an on-the-job accident in Tennessee, your first course of action after seeking medical attention should be to consult our knowledgeable lawyers at Michael D. Ponce & Associates.

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