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The 2014 Reform of the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation System: What Are the Changes?

In July 2014, the state of Tennessee passed a wide reform of the workers’ compensation system to make improvements for state workers. If you employ five or more full-time or part-time workers, you are required by the state to have workers’ compensation coverage. It is understandable that you may have questions regarding this new reform to the system. What exactly are these changes and what do they mean for local business owners? Our staff at Elite Insurance Solutions would like to explain these changes to you to help you understand the new workers’ comp system in Tennessee.

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The System Has Become More Streamlined and Dedicated.

An autonomous division, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) is being created to handle all workers’ comp claims and benefits throughout the entire process. Along with this new division, a new court, Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims, is in place to make the decisions. The DWC Administrator will appoint the judges, mediators, and appeals board; however, the Tennessee Supreme Court remains as the highest court of appeals.

The Reform Provides More Fairness.

Before this reform, close decisions usually favored the injured worker. After this reform, the law will be applied impartially with no favoritism towards the employee or employer.

The Definition of “Injury” Has Been Revised.

According to the Nashville Business Journal, the new definition includes a physical injury by accident, a mental injury, an occupational disease, or a cumulative traumatic condition that arose “primarily” in the scope and course of employment after all other causes have been considered. The “primarily” means that the job contributed to over 50% of the injury.

Employers Now Have Greater Access to Medical Information.

The required employee-signed waiver of the past is no longer necessary for employers to be able to communicate directly with the treating physicians. Employers will also be able to review all medical records related to the treatment of the workers’ comp injury.

Permanent Partial Disability Benefits Will Be Determined Differently.

The reform now considers all injuries and impairments as “body as a whole” injuries. Additionally the maximum number of weeks to receive benefits has increased from 400 to 450 weeks.

A Mandated Ombudsman Program Has Been Created.

This new program will educate, assist, and protect the rights of injured workers, their employers, and others looking to resolve workers’ compensation claims disputes. People who do not have legal counsel will be able to take part in this ombudsman program.

Even though the changes included in this reform are viewed as positive by both employees and employers and will significantly reduce costs, medical inflation continues to increase. A Medical Advisory Committee has also been formed to aid in reducing medical expenses. This committee will consult with the DWC Administrator to create the guidelines, which must be adopted by January 1, 2016, for the diagnosis and treatment of the most commonly occurring workers’ compensation injuries.

Want to talk to one of our agents about this workers’ compensation system reform? Contact Elite Insurance Solutions today to find out how these changes affect you.

By Randy Hulett on September 15th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Liability Insurance for Your Business

Get protection for your business. Don't risk losing  your assets just because you didn't have liability insurance.

Get protection for your business. Don’t risk losing your assets just because you didn’t have liability insurance.

Your company faces liability every day. The only way to protect your assets is to carry adequate business liability insurance. Imagine that a customer or client suffers bodily injury while on your business premises, such as in your office or store, or because of the negligence of one of your employees while the employee is working outside of your principal place of business. In such cases, the injured person may be able to collect for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other items. Moreover, apart from physical injuries, your business also may be liable for damages for such things as libel, slander, false arrest, and false imprisonment.

Liability Insurance is the First Line of Defense for your Business

General liability insurance is the first line of defense in the event of a third party claim against you or your business. These policies provide coverage for judgments relating to these types of injury lawsuits up to the limits of the policy, as well as covering the cost of defending the lawsuits. The policies cover a range of possible injuries to your clients or customers; for example, slipping and falling at your place of business, or otherwise being harmed by a physical object located on your business premises.

Typical Coverage Amounts

General liability policies typically have dollar limits for each incident, as well as an overall limit for the policy year. For example, a policy may pay up to $1,000,000 per claim and up to a total of $3,000,000 for the policy year. If your business leases its space from someone else, the building owner likely will have liability insurance; however, you can and should still have your own general liability policy.

Liability Insurance Protects You AND Your Business

Most policyholders don’t realize that some amounts awarded in lawsuits usually won’t be covered by a general liability policy (for example, if your business is required to pay punitive damages for willful or malicious actions). Just to be clear, having general liability insurance is a good idea whether or not your business is legally structured to limit personal liability (for example, if your business is a limited liability company or corporation). Even if you are personally protected from liability, a single serious injury suffered by a client or customer could lead to damages that would bankrupt your business if it were uninsured.

Even if you don’t think your business has enough assets to be sued, or if you believe that because your business is incorporated, you’re shielded from personal liability, you still need liability insurance. Why? The answer is quite simple: anyone can be sued. As a matter of fact, the smaller your business is, the more likely it is that you can be held personally liable for legal judgments through your personal assets. Your business needs a dedicated liability policy because of the many inherent risks and potential threats to its successful and continued operation. Pick up the phone and call Elite Insurance Solutions to request a quote from one of our dedicated agents at your earliest convenience. We’d love to have you join the ranks of our many satisfied customers.