Workers’ Comp Reform On The Move
By: Carolyn Johnson
Today, the Florida House passed several improvements to its workers’ compensation proposal out of the Commerce Committee. The Florida Chamber of Commerce was there to champion the voice of job creators and defeat trial lawyer amendments that would have taken Florida’s workers’ comp system backward.
The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force has been actively working to resolve a $1.5 billion cost increase on the business community, and today’s legislative hearing was a positive step toward resolution. Thanks to the work of Chairman Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), and with the support of a wide-ranging business community coalition, the bill that passed today contained a cap of $150 an hour for plaintiff’s attorneys fees, added protections for injured workers and further narrowed instances when plaintiff’s attorneys can receive fees.
Additionally, HB 7085 and a separate proposal, HB 1107, sponsored by Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Bartow), would:
- Reduce workers’ comp rates,
- Decrease unnecessary litigation, and
- Protect injured workers private information from solicitors.
The Florida Chamber’s workers’ comp reform focus has been on quickly getting injured workers well and back on the job, while reducing rates and bringing stability to the overall system. This effort stands in contrast to Florida’s trial lawyer lobby, which backed amendments today that would limit employers’ abilities to defend themselves against frivolous lawsuits while allowing claimant attorney fees to run rampant without benefit accrual to the claimant.
While today was a step in the right direction, we are a long way to the finish line and fixing our broken system. We expect additional amendments to be filed on the House bill during consideration on the floor. We will continue reaching out, keeping you apprised of the latest legislative action on this important issue, and seeking your help in getting workers’ comp reform across the finish line.
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