Administration’s Workers’ Compensation Improvement Act is Unbalanced, Fails to Address Actual Cost Drivers and Grants Too Much Power to the Executive Branch SB200/HB194

Proposed Changes to Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act a Bad Idea:
• The Bill strips the legislature of authority over workers’ compensation and grants full, exclusive authority to the executive branch through rulemaking by the administrator.
• The Bill sweeps away effective Tennessee public policy that has been in place since 1919 when the great compromise between employers and employees was enacted.
• The Bill totally rewrites Workers’ Comp and was vetted in private by the Administration and has not involved public hearings which involve the legislature or the working people of Tennessee. The House of Representatives should conduct public hearings to fully understand the vast changes and perceived issues addressed by the Administration before the bill moves.
• If State rulemaking procedures are followed, the Administration cannot pass the necessary rules before the proposed effective date of January 1, 2014. The effective date should be amended to at least July 1, 2014.
• The Bill offers no protection for the most seriously injured Tennesseans who will wind up on government assistance and TennCare.
• From 2006 to 2010, Tennessee paid injured workers less in benefits while states contiguous to Tennessee paid injured workers more in benefits. Tennessee is one of 14 states nationally to pay workers less over that same time period. Source: National Academy of Social Insurance, Workers’ Compensation, published August 2012.
• According to the Advisory Council on Workers’ Compensation in Tennessee and the National Council on Compensation Insurance, payments to injured workers in Tennessee have decreased 41% since the 2004 reform act. In fact, benefits paid to the average Tennessee worker is less than the region and countrywide according to the September 2012 report from NCCI.
• According to NCCI, 77% of all claims filed in Tennessee require only medical payments.
• According to NCCI, medical costs constitute 67% of the total benefits paid in Tennessee.
• According to Advisory Council on Workers’ Compensation, less than 1% of all workers’ compensation cases were resolved by trial in 2011. Since 2008, trials have been utilized to conclude cases in only 1.3% of cases.
• The mediation system under the current law results in 99% of unfiled cases being resolved through the Tennessee Department of Labor’s informal program.
• The Bill provides no incentive for employers to retain injured workers which was a public policy behind the 1992 reform that which introduced the cap system, instead making it more efficient and cheaper for employers to release injured workers.

Protect Injured Tennessee Workers

TN WC Subro on Future Meds

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued a decision yesterday holding that an employer’s subrogation claim/lien on the injured worker’s third party tort claim does not include the cost of future medical benefits that may be provided to an injured employee. Click here to read this important decision.

RICO cause of action re: Workers’ Compensation

Many of my disability clients become disabled as the result of an on the job injury. Our firm handles workers’ compensation claims in Georgia and Tennessee. In what appears to be a very important decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs’ claims against Sedgwick, Coca Cola, and Dr. Drouillard under the Racketeer Influenced and Correct Organizations Act (“RICO”) should not have been dismissed by the District Court. Jackson v. Segwick Claims Management Services, No. 10-1453 (6th Cir. November 2, 2012). The case of Brown v. Cassens Transport Co., 675 F.3d 946 (6th Cir. 2012), is a must read as well.

What can happen when you’re hurt on the job in Tennessee