Workers’ Comp Rate Finalized and Total Costs Resulting From Court Rulings to Top $1.5 Billion

By: Edie Ousley

Tallahassee, Fla. (Oct. 4, 2016) – A workers’ compensation rate increase finalized today will top more than $1.5 billion, and force Florida job creators to pay higher premiums designed to  benefit billboard trial lawyers – not injured workers, the Florida Chamber of Commerce said.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) today accepted the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s recommended 14.5 percent workers’ comp rate increase, and took necessary steps to begin assessing the increased rates on December 1 for new and renewal policies.

“Job creators across Florida will now be forced to pick up a $1.5 billion tab that, disturbingly is not about employee safety or protecting workers – it’s about increasing compensation for plaintiff trial lawyers,” said MARK WILSON, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“A rate increase this big, this sudden, hurts Florida’s competitiveness and employers large and small. Many businesses will be forced to delay hiring – or even cut existing staff – to cover this leap in their workers’ comp premiums,” WILSON added.

ICYMI: Let’s fix workers’ comp in Florida. (Tampa Bay Times, September 30, 2016)

The 14.5 percent workers’ comp rate increase follows two Florida Supreme Court decisions declaring portions of Florida’s workers’ comp system unconstitutional. In one case in particular, the plaintiff argued that the plaintiff trial lawyer should receive $38,000 in attorney fees for a case in which the injured worker was awarded only $800. That’s $800 for the injured worker and $38,000 for the trial lawyer. This accounts for nearly two-thirds of the rate increase.

Last week during the Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum, Senator Bill Galvano and Representative Kathleen Passidomo discussed this issue with Florida Chamber Workers’ Comp Task Force Co-Chair Steve Knopik, CEO of Bealls, on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.

“It’s important that we educate the new members in the legislature who maybe didn’t live through those reforms (2003 reforms) at that time, make sure that the voice of the Florida Chamber is heard in those deliberations and make sure you understand who the decision makers are in that process,” said SENATOR GALVANO.

“I think it’s important that we hit it early on, look at it globally, make the change that needs to be made, and it’s not redoing the entire statute, but addressing the Supreme Court’s rulings and do it as soon as possible,” said REPRESENTATIVE PASSIDOMO.

The Florida Chamber has a long history of helping to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working. As a result, workers’ comp rates lowered by more than 60 percent in the last 13 years, and injured workers returned to work 10 days faster. Those efforts continue today with the Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Compensation Task Force which is working to secure a legislative fix.

 

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