Roberto Ceniceros, BusinessInsurance.com
April 3, 2013

Tennessee’s Senate has approved a bill to reform the state’s workers compensation system.

Among other measures, S.B. 200 would change the standard for determining whether injuries are compensable by requiring that they arise “primarily” from employment. For most injuries, current Tennessee law requires only that injuries arise from employment.

But a legislative summary states that under amendments added to the measure, “an injury arises primarily out of and in course and scope of employment only if it has been shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the employment contributed more than 50% in causing the injury.”

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, also would replace a court-based workers comp adjudication system with an agency whose administrator would be chosen by the governor.

Tennessee courts have required “a liberal construction of (workers comp) law in favor of injured workers.” But an amendment added to S.B. 200 requires “that the law be construed fairly, impartially and in accordance with basic principles of statutory construction without favor to either employee or employer,” according to the legislative summary.

The bill also would change how disability benefit durations are determined and how workers com medical providers are selected.

The Tennessee Senate approved the measure Monday and sent it to the House.

Meanwhile, similar legislation, H.B. 194, advanced Tuesday to the Tennessee House Calendar and Rules Committee to schedule a floor vote on the legislation favored by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

Among other measures, S.B. 200 would change the standard for determining whether injuries are compensable by requiring that they arise “primarily” from employment. For most injuries, current Tennessee law requires only that injuries arise from employment.

But a legislative summary states that under amendments added to the measure, “an injury arises primarily out of and in course and scope of employment only if it has been shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the employment contributed more than 50% in causing the injury.”

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, also would replace a court-based workers comp adjudication system with an agency whose administrator would be chosen by the governor.

Tennessee courts have required “a liberal construction of (workers comp) law in favor of injured workers.” But an amendment added to S.B. 200 requires “that the law be construed fairly, impartially and in accordance with basic principles of statutory construction without favor to either employee or employer,” according to the legislative summary.

The bill also would change how disability benefit durations are determined and how workers com medical providers are selected.

The Tennessee Senate approved the measure Monday and sent it to the House.

Meanwhile, similar legislation, H.B. 194, advanced Tuesday to the Tennessee House Calendar and Rules Committee to schedule a floor vote on the legislation favored by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

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