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Florida Workers’ Compensation Market In Turmoil

The worker’s compensation programs across the nation are facing rate increase problems, and the state of Florida is included on the list of those with the most severe financial issues. Following a series of lawsuits aimed at the Florida comp system, the Florida court system has decided in two particular cases that certain aspects of the state compensation program are unconstitutional and has issued two rulings that impact both businesses in the market and employers, not to mention collection problems for injured workers. There are three particular rulings that will impact legal counselors like Coconut Creek workers comp lawyer Evan Ostfeld.

Legal Fees

One of the first problems is that the state court has decided that the cap on attorney fees associated with workers compensation claims is actually unconstitutional because it an arbitrary determination by the state that includes no method for appeal of the cap. In Castellanos vs. New Door Co., the court ruled that the cap actually amounted to a denial of due process. Any Coconut Creek workers comp lawyer representing clients could have their fee predetermined by the state with no opportunity for discussion of extensive litigation processes. That cap will no longer be in place, and the legislature will assuredly have to address the issue eventually.

Temporary Benefits

Florida has long had a cap of 104 weeks for those receiving workers compensation benefits, but now that cap has been eliminated by the court as well as unconstitutional. In the case Westphal vs. The City of St. Petersburg the state court ruled that the 104 week cap amounted to a denial of benefits even though the injured worker was still incapacitated and listed as temporarily instead of permanently disabled. This ruling has not only increased the payouts from the insurance pool, but also effectively ends the temporary status claim, similar to disability claims issued by the Social Security Administration.

Premium Rate Increases

The state court has also issued a ruling that requires insurance premium for employers to go up by over 14% in a three-tiered funding repair, all three set to go into effect on December 1, 2016. This rate increase still must be evaluated by the federal appeals court, but the bottom line is that employer premiums will be going up significantly in 2017. This could have a major impact on all industries in the state and potentially lead to companies attempting to skirt the program, which does not bode well for Florida workers.

With the market in turmoil as it is, it is more important than ever before to retain legal counsel when dealing with a workplace injury claim like Coconut Creek workers comp lawyer Evan Ostfeld. The market is changing and insurance companies will be tightening their purse strings when claims are paid.

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