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Articles Posted in Rules and Regulations

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Each year, legislators from all states introduce proposed bills in an effort to better their particular state, and Tennessee is no different. Throughout legislative sessions, proposed bills are introduced among a wide range of topics, including healthcare, motor vehicles, watercraft, child custody, drug offenders, constitutional rights, firearms, public contracts, taxes, and real estate. Through the voting procedures of the state, many of these bills get signed into law. In Tennessee, more than 150 bills became law effective July 1, 2018. Here is a summary of all of the new Tennessee laws. Below are a few that apply specifically to public safety:

  • Boating laws – Bill SB1335 affects boating across Tennessee’s bodies of waters, including numerous lakes where people like to enjoy holidays. One new requirement is that any Tennessee resident born after January 1, 1989 must obtain a boating education certificate before renting a boat. If a resident from another state wishes to rent a boat in Tennessee, that individual must present a boating education certificate from his or her home state.
  • Proof of motor vehicle registration – Bill SB0727 will now allow people to show evidence of proper title and registration of their motor vehicle via electronic formats. These formats could include cell phones or similar electronic devices such as tablets.
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A unique issue that can arise in Tennessee workers’ compensation law is when employees are hired by contractors to perform work and get injured on the job. Many people in Tennessee work for temporary agencies or staffing companies, and they are then hired by a contractor for a limited duration to assist with a particular job or project. After sustaining an on the job injury, the employee will want to know which workers’ compensation insurance carrier will be required to provide benefits under Tennessee law.

Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-106(5), an employer that regularly employs more than five (5) individuals must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. As a general rule, however, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-113, a principal contractor or sub-contractor can be held equally liable to an injured employee as long as the employee was engaged in the subject matter of the contract to the same extent as the immediate employer. The purpose of this statute is to ensure employees are eligible to receive medical care and temporary and/or permanent disability benefits when injured within the course and scope of their employment, even if the employee’s immediate employer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Benefits under this statute often are received through a principal contractor when an employee is hired through a temporary service and assigned to perform work with a specific employer or when an employee is employed through an employer with no workers’ compensation insurance coverage and the employee is assigned, directed, or contracted to perform work for a separate business/company.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-113 does not apply to the construction industry. Instead, we look to Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-901.  All individuals or entities in the construction industry are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, regardless of whether they employ more than five (5) individuals. However, specifically in the construction industry, an individual or entity may qualify to apply for exemption under Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-903. All applications for exemption must be reviewed and approved by the Tennessee Secretary of State. If approved, the individual or entity is then added to the Workers’ Compensation Exemption Registry.

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Employees who work for an employer covered by the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act who have been injured while within the course and scope of their employment are entitled to receive medical care through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Tennessee law obligates the employer to provide an injured employee with medical benefits for any work-related injury. For medical care to be covered by the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier, the injury must arise primarily out of and in the course and scope of employment, and the employment must contribute more than 50% in causing the injury, considering all causes. The employee has the burden of establishing every element of his or her claim by a preponderance of the evidence.

In July 2014, the statutory definition of injury under the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act was updated to exclude aggravation of pre-existing conditions unless it can be shown, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the aggravation is more than 50% caused by the employment.  The opinion of the authorized treating physician through the workers’ compensation insurance carrier is presumed correct on the issue of causation, but this presumption can be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.

In a Tennessee workers’ compensation claim, determining whether an injury is work-related is a decision to be made by a physician, not by the employer or insurance carrier. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board have held that as long as the employee comes forward with sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that their injuries may be work-related, the employer should provide medical care. From there, the authorized physician should make a determination as to whether the injury is causally related to the employment.

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In today’s world, everyone drives.  Highways, neighborhood streets, and parking lots are full of drivers of different age ranges and driving experience.  Because of this, it is of utmost importance to drive with care and respect of the drivers around you.  However, no matter how protective and cautious you are, there is always that one person on the road or potential unforeseen hazard that could lead to a car accident.  If the unfortunate happens, Tennessee residents need to refresh their knowledge of Tennessee accident laws to protect themselves and their rights.  Below are the first three steps that a driver of a motor vehicle must take in the event of an accident.

ONE: Stop for all accidents involving injury, death, or property damage

According to Tennessee Code Annotated 55-10-101, “the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible.”  This stop, however, must occur with as little obstruction of traffic as is necessary.  This law applies not only to highways and roads, but also to any parking lots or other areas that are frequently visited by the public at large.  Failure to stop in violation of this section can result in a Class A misdemeanor.  This penalty enlarges to a Class E felony if the driver leaves the scene when he or she knew or should have reasonably known that death resulted in the accident.  Moreover, a driver who fails to stop shall have his or her license or permit revoked.

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