New Workers’ Comp Data Shows Skyrocketing Fees
Attorney fees in workers’ compensation cases are drastically increasing, according to newly released data from the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims (the Office).
Deputy Chief Judge David Langham presented the new findings during the Florida Chamber’s Capitol Days in Tallahassee.
Just as predicted after the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in Castellanos v. Next Door Company, the 2016-2017 annual report by the Office shows that attorney fees for injured workers increased by 36 percent over the previous year, totaling $186 million. This amount is the highest in claimant attorney fees that have been paid in over a decade.
Hourly attorney fees jumped by nearly 200 percent- from $25.8 million prior to the court decision to $75 million after. The statutory attorney fee during the same time frame decreased 31 percent.
Adding to the figure is $254 million paid in the defense of workers’ compensation claims. Florida is one of the few states where the employer/carrier pays both defense and injured worker’ attorney fees.
The Florida Supreme Court issued the Castellanos decision in April 2016, which declared the current attorney fee structure unconstitutional. This resulted in a 14.5 percent, or $1.5 billion, increase on Florida job creators. Prior to the Castellanos decision, workers’ comp premiums had decreased by nearly 60 percent after the legislature passed Florida Chamber-backed reforms in 2003 to first address attorney fees.
The Florida House is expected to pass its workers’ comp bill, HB 7009 by Rep. Danny Burgess, later this week. The Senate has not filed major workers’ comp reforms for this session.
Help us create a solution that brings certainty back to employers and workers and join the Workers’ Comp Task Force today!
Florida Chamber Announces Representative Danny Burgess Named a 2017 Distinguished Advocate
The Florida Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that Representative Danny Burgess is one of the Florida Chamber’s 2017 Distinguished Advocates for his commitment to championing pro-jobs, pro-business legislation.
The Florida Chamber’s Distinguished Advocate award recognizes lawmakers who fought tirelessly for the passage of pro-business legislation – no matter how difficult – and furthered the Florida Chamber’s goals of securing Florida’s future through job creation and economic development.
To view Representative Burgess’s complete grading and district information, click here.
“Representative Danny Burgess led the charge for major workers’ compensation reform, one of the Florida Chamber’s top priorities,” said DAVID HART, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
“Workers’ comp was the top priority of the business community thanks to a $1.5 billion increase. I am honored to be recognized by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and look forward to bringing relief to Florida’s job creators,” REPRESENTATIVE BURGESS said.
Florida House Passes Pro-Worker, Pro-Business Workers’ Comp Legislation
Tallahassee (April 19, 2017) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today applauds the Florida House of Representatives for taking a major step toward addressing much-needed reforms to Florida’s broken workers’ compensation system by passing HB 7085, sponsored by Rep. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills).
“For almost a year, attorneys have received a payday on the backs of injured workers, receiving attorney fees in some instances of $400 an hour,” said CAROLYN JOHNSON, Director of Business, Economic Development and Innovation Policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber commends Chairman Burgess and House leadership for their work on reining in out-of-control attorney fees, preventing unnecessary litigation and helping injured workers get back to work quickly.”
This Florida Chamber-Backed Bill Will:
- Realign the amount of attorney fees to the amount secured for the injured workers,
- Place a cap on attorney fees of $150 per hour,
- Encourage affected employees to avoid drawn-out court proceedings, and
- Reduce rates for job creators.
Florida’s workers’ comp system suffered a major blow in 2016 after the state Supreme Court issued a series of rulings that threw out portions of the system, resulting in a workers’ comp rate increase of 14.5 percent, or $1.5 billion, beginning Dec. 1. This rate hike was not accompanied by additional benefits for injured workers, but instead meant additional income to attorneys.
HB 7085 now travels to the Florida Senate for legislative action. The Florida Chamber looks forward to working with the members of the Senate to enact workers’ comp legislation that supports jobs for Florida’s families and strengthens our state’s economic competitiveness.
Rep. Danny Burgess On Why Workers’ Comp Reform Is Essential
Helping Injured Workers is at the Heart of Workers’ Compensation Reform
“The House’s goal in all of this is to insure that this is the most open, transparent take that we have ever attempted to make on the workers’ compensation reform process….I just appreciate [stakeholders] taking so much time to make sure that we have the best bill that we can possibly have for those that are at the heart of the grand bargain – the employers and the employees.”
– Rep. Danny Burgess, Florida House Insurance and Banking Committee Chairman
Watch Rep. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), the House Banking and Insurance Committee Chairman, on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line explaining how expanding benefits for injured workers and reining in attorney behavior is the impetus behind the House’s efforts to reform Florida’s broken workers’ compensation system.
Have You or Your Business Felt the Impact of the 14.5 Percent Increase in Workers’ Comp Rates?
Email your lawmakers before noon on Wednesday and tell them to fix workers’ comp now. Ask them to support HB 7085 and HB 1107 in their non-amended forms.