A Brief Look at Tennessee's New Workers’ Compensation Law

by Miller & Martin PLLC

On April 29, 2013, Governor Bill Haslam signed the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2013 (“the Reform Act”) into law.  The Reform Act will apply to all workers’ compensation claims that are made on or after July 1, 2014.  This new law is intended to streamline the workers’ compensation claim process while providing better protection and faster service to injured employees.

New “Workers’ Compensation Court”

The Reform Act establishes a workers’ compensation division as its own autonomous unit, connected to the Tennessee Department of Labor only for administrative purposes.  Although the new system is administrative in nature, all disputes concerning a workers’ compensation claim will go to what will be known as “the court of workers’ compensation.”  An administrator, appointed by the Governor, will oversee the new division as well as appoint the new workers’ compensation mediators, judges, and appeals board. 

Supervised mediation will be the first stop for all unsettled workers’ compensation claim disputes.  Issues which remain unresolved at mediation then will be decided by workers’ compensation judges.  Workers’ compensation judges will hold hearings and make claim compensation and other orders, decisions, and determinations in accordance with the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and the Tennessee Rules of Evidence just like other Tennessee state courts.  These determinations will be made without a jury. 

The decisions of the workers’ compensation judges then may be appealed to the workers’ compensation appeals board.  Any adjustment or decision made by the appeals board is only appealable to the Tennessee Supreme Court. 

New Physician Selection Process

Employers will designate a group of at least three (3) applicable physicians in the injured employee’s community, if possible.  If not, then the employer is allowed to select a physician within 100 miles of the employee’s community.  If a specialist is needed, the employee’s selected treating physician can make referrals.  Referrals made by the treating physician are then presumed to be acceptable to the employer, unless the employer provides a group of at least three (3) specialists within three (3) business days of the treating physician’s referral.

New Ombudsman Program

The Reform Act also mandates that the new workers’ compensation administrator create an ombudsman program to assist injured employees, employers, and others in resolving claims-related disputes and protecting their rights in the workers’ compensation benefits administration process.  This program will be available to individuals who are not represented by counsel.  In an attempt to secure the new program’s success, anyone who refuses to cooperate with the services provided by an ombudsman can be assessed a special penalty per the Reform Act. 

Mark Your Calendars!

We will be discussing these and several other significant facets of the Reform Act in our next Chattanooga “HR Breakfast Club” meeting on September 12 and in a duplicate session in Nashville in October.  Invitations to these sessions will be sent out later this summer to this same legal alert list.

In the meantime, if you have any questions concerning this new law or the administration of your current workers’ compensation claims, please feel free to contact Neil Brunetz or any other member of Miller & Martin's Labor & Employment Practice Group.
The opinions expressed in this bulletin are intended for general guidance only. They are not intended as recommendations for specific situations.  As always, readers should consult a qualified attorney for specific legal guidance.  Should you need assistance from a Miller & Martin attorney, please call 1-800-275-7303.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Miller & Martin PLLC | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Miller & Martin PLLC

Miller & Martin PLLC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.