Tenn. Rakes in Penalties from Workers’ Comp Complaints

Tennessee’s Workers Compensation Penalty Program has collected close to $300,000 in penalties from insurance carriers and employers since it was created in 2004, officials said.

In its first year, the program received 120 referrals resulting in 50 penalties totaling about $63,600 in fines. Last year, it received 260 referrals resulting in 100 penalties totaling about $149,400.

In the first six months of this fiscal year, the program received 156 referrals resulting in 50 penalties totaling about $85,000.

Created in response to the 2004 Workers’ Compensation Reform Act, the program is responsible for enforcing workers’ compensation laws and regulations.

It’s a referral-based system with the most common complaint being an injured employee not getting paid his or her temporary disability benefits. The most common penalty is for late payment of benefits. The agency did not provide names of offenders.

“Prior to the legislation there were no penalties if an insurance carrier or employer was late in paying a compensable claim,” Administrator Sue Ann Head said. “There were no consequences, and for an employee, that can be tough when you don’t have any income coming in.”