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Changes could be coming for workers' compensation

In 2011, The House Republican Small Business Task Force met on workers' compensation issues and prepared a study that state officials, business groups, labor leaders and legal experts are eager to review. The task force has some issues that they want addressed, but it may not be until 2013 before any legislative changes take place.

The goal of putting together the task force and studying the state's current workers' compensation plan is to make the state more business friendly and improve upon the administrative side of the program.

One issue earmarked for discussion is in regards to the practice of employers misclassifying employees or using contractor exemptions to avoid paying lower workers' compensation premiums or none at all. Tennessee is not the only state that is facing this issue and the committee is looking for ways to stop this practice.

Another area that the task force would like to change is to have a commission system hear workers' compensation cases. The thought is that this would speed up the time it takes for the cases and save money in the long run.

In 2004, Tennessee passed a law requiring insurance companies and injured workers and their attorneys to go through mediation before the case went into the court system. There is some debate on whether this law has been effective and whether a commission system specifically for workers' compensation would lower litigation costs, or if it's just adding an additional step to the process.

If any changes go into effect, a personal injury attorney could help you navigate the system. It's important for you to have an advocate on your side to keep on top of possible changes that could affect your particular situation. Workers' compensation claims are complicated and you need someone on your side to help you get what you are entitled to.

Source: Claims Journal, "Tennessee to Study Workers' Compensation System," Michael Adams, Jan. 18, 2012

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