$1.5 Billion Workers’ Comp Increase Takes Effect December 1
December 1, workers’ compensation rates will increase by 14.5 percent for all new and renewal policies, an increase which equates essentially to a $1.5 billion transfer of wealth from Florida businesses to trial lawyers. This is your chance to share with the Division of Workers’ Comp your thoughts on how to fix Florida’s current workers’ comp system. If the business community does not weigh in, plaintiff trial lawyers, not job creators, will inform the Division’s proposed recommendations. Please take a few minutes to provide your feedback. The survey closes Thursday, December 8, 2016.
This $1.5 billion increase is the result of two Florida Supreme Court decisions earlier this year declaring portions of Florida’s workers’ comp system unconstitutional. In one specific ruling, the Court said a plaintiff trial lawyer could receive $38,000 in attorney fees for a case in which the injured worker’s injuries totaled $800. That’s $800 for the injured worker and $38,000 for the trial lawyer and higher rates for everyone.
Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, a Leon Circuit Court judge voided the 14.5 percent rate increase under the grounds that the National Council on Compensation Insurance and the Office of Insurance Regulation did not follow the requirements of the “Sunshine Law.” This decision has since been appealed, allowing the rate increase to take effect today, as planned.
While a delay sounds like it would have been great for businesses, the reality was that a rate increase was looming on the horizon. As I told the media last week:
“This might sound like a victory, but Florida businesses shouldn’t be fooled by this classic trial lawyer tactic. The rates may not go up on December 1st, but this is only temporary. What won’t stop, however, is that trial lawyers will use this time to continue enjoying the benefit of unlimited legal fees in workers’ comp cases, while they are also seeking higher attorney fees for claims retroactively impacted as far back as July 2009. It’s a lucrative deal for billboard trial lawyers.”
Join the Florida Chamber Workers’ Comp Task Force:
The Florida Chamber remains committed to addressing the Supreme Court’s decision when the Florida Legislature convenes in March. The Florida Chamber Workers’ Comp Task Force has been working on this remedy, as well as educating businesses on this rate increase.