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Workers' compensation changes delayed by scandal

Even though legislation designed to protect workers hurt on the job has been through several revisions, it seems as though Tennessee is no closer to crafting an alternative to workers' compensation as proposed by lawmakers. News reports show that the workers' compensation changes may have been stymied by a scandal associated with one of the legislators, who is accused of sexually harassing several women. That man, who was the state's House majority whip, is now on a leave of absence, leaving the legislation without a major champion.

Representatives had been working on legislation designed to give employers in the state the option to "self-insure" themselves for workers' compensation situations. This would give employers the right to craft their own occupational benefit plans for workers, giving them more flexibility and potential cost savings. The plan was modeled after existing systems in Texas and Oklahoma that have reportedly saved a significant amount of money for employers in those states.

Representatives from the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers Compensation, an organization pushing for the bill's approval, say that the measure is not dead yet. They, along with other lawmakers in the state, say they intend to continue revising the statute and seeking additional input as the legislative session moves forward. They say that the changes would benefit workers and employers, creating a healthier system for workers' compensation in the state.

Tennessee employees who suffer from a workplace injury deserve financial compensation for their pain and suffering, lost wages and other related claims. It is still not clear whether this hybrid system would compromise workers' access to these critical funds. No matter what, workers can rest assured that Tennessee attorneys will be prepared to assist with workers' compensation claims even if the changes are approved.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Future of Tennessee Workers’ Comp Option in Question Amid Lawmaker Scandal," Amy O'Connor, Feb. 09, 2017

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