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.