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Proposed legislation may slash benefits for injured workers

A new piece of legislation may drastically alter the way in which workers' compensation claims are processed in Tennessee. The proposed reform, however, which would subject claims related to a workplace accident to the discretion of an ombudsman rather than the current exhaustive process, has also stirred up considerable controversy.Presently, workers' compensation claims undergo a complex review process involving the court system as well as extensive pre-court administrative procedures that include a review process for potential benefits. Once a claim goes before the court, it is subject to review by one of hundreds of judges, but few claims actually require a trial, according to a Murfreesboro city council member who is also an attorney. The new legislation would remove the court entirely from the equation, and claims would be put before one of a small number of administrative law judges appointed specifically for the task of reviewing such claims, provided that the claim is approved in the first place by the ombudsman who processes it directly from the employee.

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