Workers’ compensation plays an important role in helping workers deal with the effects of injuries or conditions that they acquire because of their job.

Employees can be exposed to a variety of injuries and harms in the course of their work. For instance, some jobs can expose workers to serious diseases. Emergency response positions are an example of such a job. If a worker in such a job does contract a serious disease because of his or her employment it could have major effects on his or her life.

There is a challenge that can sometimes arise when it comes to workers’ compensation claims involving serious diseases. This challenge is that it can be difficult to definitively prove that a worker who has a serious disease got the disease because of his or her job. Thus, a worker’s ability to receive benefits in connection to a work-acquired disease can be affected by what proof requirements state laws place on the type of claim he or she is bringing.

Recently, new legislation has been proposed in Tennessee involving emergency responders and work-acquired HIV. The proposal would create a legal presumption that would apply to emergency responders that have contracted HIV. The presumption would be that the HIV was contracted in the course of the individual’s employment.

What effects could this law have? It could make it easier for emergency responders to receive workers’ compensation in connection to work-acquired HIV, as the presumption would make it so emergency responders would not have to initially prove that the virus was in fact acquired at work. Thus, this bill could have positive implications for emergency responders who acquire HIV in the course of their work.

This new proposal demonstrates how big of an effect state laws regarding proof can have on an individual’s ability to receive workers’ compensation in connection to a work-acquired disease. It will be interesting to see if the Tennessee proposal does eventually pass.