While the Florida Chamber of Commerce continues to monitor the Florida Supreme Court for a decision on the three workers’ compensation cases before the Court, this week a decision was issued by the First District Court of Appeals that is disconcerting for the workers’ comp system.
Miles v City of Edgewater opens the door for other injured parties to hire their own attorneys, and for attorneys to start taking workers’ comp cases on a non-contingency basis. This could increase litigation, increase the amount of awards, and lengthen court battles.
The intent of the workers’ comp attorney fee statute is to prevent unnecessary and drawn out litigation from taking place, and ensure that claims have merit. While the result of the decision in Miles v. City of Edgewater is that the claimant or a third party has the right to contract and pay for an attorney beyond the contingency fee basis, a concern is that attorneys will prey on injured workers to pay their own fees and an increase in meritless lawsuits will occur.
It is unclear yet whether this case will be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, or if this could have an impact on rates. NCCI, the state’s rating agency, will be examining the financial impact of this case in the coming weeks to determine if workers’ comp rates will need to be increased.
Take Action Now
Florida’s business climate is a key factor in businesses expanding and relocating to Florida – that means we must ensure workers’ comp rates remain affordable. The Florida Chamber’s Economic Development Task Force, which will launch in May, will discuss important business climate issues driving business decisions. To learn more and to be part of the conversation, contact Carolyn Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.