Need Legal Help for Your Business? Find It Here
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Need Legal Help for Your Business? Find It Here

When my husband I decided to start a business, we didn't think about the legal aspects of doing so. We didn't realize that purchasing business insurance, getting building permits and making investments all required some type of legal advice. But after speaking to a close friend, who also happens to own a small business, we contacted a business attorney. Now, we have the legal smarts to make the best decisions for our business, as well as the legal representation in case something happens to our company. I hope that you find my blog helpful and informative for your own business. It's a great resource for finding the legal advice, resources and guidance you need to get your company up and running.

Need Legal Help for Your Business? Find It Here

What Can Recent (And Proposed) Changes To Tennessee's Workers Compensation Laws Mean For You?

Ronnie Mills

If you live and work in Tennessee, you may have heard rumblings about potential changes to workers compensation laws that could cap both the amount of time you're able to receive benefits and the total amount of benefits an insurance company may pay out to you following a workplace injury. However, what you may not know is that your state's workers compensation laws were already overhauled in 2013, and the benefits you learned about during your employee orientation may no longer be in effect. Read on to learn more about the recent changes made to Tennessee workers compensation laws, as well as the potential changes that could impact your ability to receive benefits after being injured at work.

What effect did the 2013 changes have on Tennessee workers comp payments?

In Tennessee, all employers are required to carry workers compensation insurance coverage, with the premium based on the type of work performed and the number of employees covered. This insurance helps protect both the employer and employee -- the employer is insulated from a personal injury lawsuit following a workplace injury, and a worker injured on the job can receive back pay, medical expenses, and other compensation to avoid paying out of pocket for any costs related to the injury.

In many cases, a workers compensation claim is uncontested -- the employee will promptly report a workplace injury to his or her employer, who will file a claim with the workers compensation carrier. Once a claim is opened, the injured worker needs only to begin providing this claim information to doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers to have these costs fully covered by insurance. If an injury prevents an employee from returning to work, workers compensation will pay a portion of this employee's salary once sick and vacation days are depleted.

But in other cases, an employer may be suspicious about the circumstances leading up to the claim, or the workers compensation carrier may also have reason to believe this claim should be denied. When this happens, the employee may opt to file an appeal, and both the employee and employer or insurer will argue their sides of the case. Before 2013, these issues usually had to be battled out in the courts, an expensive prospect for both sides. Sweeping reforms that took effect on injuries sustained on or after July 1, 2014 changed this by establishing clear alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures that could help the sides come to an agreement without spending money on a court battle.

Other changes made by the 2013 reforms include a requirement that the injury arise "primarily" from employment -- that is, the evidence must show that employment directly contributed to at least 50 percent of the injury. In some cases, this may make it harder for an injured employee to prove that a chronic overuse injury like carpal tunnel or joint pain was caused by the job and not from exercise, yard work, and other activities of daily living. However, this requirement can often lower the burden of proof for long-term or chronic injuries that are more job-specific. 

What changes are being proposed to Tennessee's workers comp laws? 

Currently, there are no lifetime caps on either the length or amount of insurance benefits. Workers comp can cover everything from a minor injury that requires only stitches and no time off work to a serious accident involving weeks of hospitalization, physical therapy, and permanent disability. However, a pending bill could change this by capping the length of payments at no more than 5 years or limiting the total amount of insurance costs paid out to $500,000. If this bill is signed into law, it could mean that serious work-related injuries are no longer fully covered by insurance, and it could require you to purchase long-term disability insurance to protect yourself and your family against the financial consequences of a serious injury.

For more information on workers compensation laws, try visiting a site like