By David Goudie
SB2190 was signed into law by Governor Lee on June 22, 2020. It has now been codified as Public Chapter No. 731.
The Secretary of State just published the final bill and assigned it Public Chapter No. 731. This final version removed some of the changes from the initial Senate bill including the changes to referrals for treating physicians and the extraordinary case clause. These removals are good news as those provisions would have made securing treatment more difficult along with increased exposure related to the ultimate resolution by increasing potential cases involving the extraordinary case clause.
The final text of the bill focused on changing the compensation period. First, Tennessee Code Annotated §50-6-207 (3)(B) was amended to change the compensation period to a minimum of 180 days. This means that for an impairment rating of 5% or less, the statute now enlarges the compensation period to 180 days or 25 weeks and 5 days at a minimum. Injuries assigned a 6% rating or higher continue to be calculated based upon how many weeks are due under the statute. Tennessee Code Annotated §50-6-207 (3)(D) has additionally been amended to extend the statute of limitations to be 1 year from the ending of the 180 day compensation period for ratings 5% or less.
Looking at the impact of this change, if you have an injury with an impairment rating of 1%, the employee would still be entitled to 4.5 weeks as the initial award. However, for that rating, the compensation period, is now 180 days rather than 4.5 weeks or 31.5 days. Therefore, unless you buy out the multipliers early, you will have to wait until the end of 180 days to determine if the multipliers apply.
Second, Tennessee Code Annotated §§50-6-801 and 50-6-802 or the Uninsured Employer’s Fund were changed to match the 180 day extension to the statute of limitations for when the compensation period ends.
Lastly, these changes went into effect on the date that the Governor signed the bill which occurred on June 22, 2020 and governs injuries occurring after that date.