The Tennessee House of Representatives is considering a workers’ comp overhaul that would, among other things, take workers’ comp out of the hands of the courts.

The changes, which seem likely to pass, include creating a panel run by the governor that would determine all workers’ comp claims. This would take workers’ compensation out of the courts and prevent what they’re claiming is burdensome litigation for businesses.

The court system can be messy. It can, at times, be expensive. But it’s also got one thing going for it that an appointed panel doesn’t have: it’s impartial.

Before a court, injured people have an attorney to stand on their side. Before a court, you are under oath and penalized if you lie. Before a court, an employer has no place to hide if he or she blatantly denies someone the compensation they deserve.

And before a court, if an employer gives thousands of dollars to the governor’s re-election campaign, it makes no difference.

But when the workers’ comp “czar” and all appeals judges are appointed by the governor, the process loses all credibility. Suddenly special interests run the game. Campaign donations, political lobbyists, and other outside pressures determine whether YOU get compensated for a head injury at the construction site.

I find it extremely problematic that the current system is seen as so burdensome to employers, as if they’re the ones who need help. As a Memphis workers’ comp attorney I see workers in my office every day who have to fight for their lives against these companies.

Is it not more burdensome to them?

They are the ones without a hand, without an eye, without the ability to provide for their children or continue a meaningful career. They are the ones who work 12-hour days only to find their employers treat them like enemies.

These workers and their families deserve a real chance against a system that already makes it difficult for them. They don’t deserve to be removed from that system entirely and placed in the hands of a government bureaucracy.