Changes to Workers’ Compensation Law await governor’s signature

NASHVILLE – Two bills changing Workers’ Compensation Law in the state recently passed in the Tennessee General Assembly and await Gov. Bill Lee’s signature. These changes will take effect upon the signing.

Insurance Coverage and Enforcement Updates (SB2189/HB2256)

Added requirements for out-of-state construction companies.
This legislation will require out-of-state construction services employers to provide primary Tennessee workers’ compensation coverage on employees in the same manner as in-state employers.

Added better enforcement against elusive uninsured businesses.
This legislation amends the workers’ compensation law to provide an additional enforcement mechanism to collect penalties issued against violators of the workers’ compensation insurance coverage laws, who seek to avoid payment of penalties by closing the business down and opening up a similar business under a new name for the sole purpose of avoiding the penalty assessment. These “successors in interest” are persons or entities that follow a previous business owner(s) in ownership of a business, have the same or similar ownership interests as that previous owner(s) and the new business is carried on and controlled substantially as it was before the transfer.

Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Law Updates SB2190/HB2257 

Extended minimum time to qualify for and request permanent partial benefits if unable to return to work.
If an injured worker is unable to return to work, the injured worker will have a minimum period of 26 weeks (180 days) from maximum medical improvement to qualify for increased benefits. Under current law, if the injured worker has a low impairment rating, the increased benefit period may be as short as 4.5 weeks, which is insufficient in most cases for the injured worker to know whether he/she will be able to make a return to the same job.

Removed unrealistic time limit from Uninsured Employers Fund court hearings.
The requirement for a final hearing to be held by the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims within 60 days of the date of a request for benefits from the Uninsured Employers Fund will be deleted. This time limitation that was put into place in 2014 was unrealistic.

Extended deadline for workers seeking benefits from Uninsured Employers Fund
The required notice deadline was extended from 60 days (of the date of injury) to 180 days for an injured worker to seek benefits from the Bureau’s Uninsured Employers Fund and to notify us of the employer’s lack of workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

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