The State of Workers’ Compensation in Florida
As a business-friendly state, Florida has worked hard to make sure employers and their employees are well taken care of under its workers’ compensation system. However, decisions by the Florida Supreme Court in Castellanos and Westphal have declared the workers’ compensation system unconstitutional, leaving Florida’s employers and employees vulnerable to a system that is on the verge of finding itself right where it was in 2003 with some of the highest workers’ compensation rates in the nation.
To make matters worse, according to a recent Oregon study that was highlighted by National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), after the December 2016 14.5 percent rate increase went into effect, Florida has jumped 10 states and is ranked 23 out of 51 states in terms of workers’ compensation rates, with the primary cost driver being the Florida Supreme Court’s decision on attorneys’ fees. Further, NCCI has estimated that over $1 billion in unfunded liabilities are slated to be assumed by the insurance industry.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The Florida Legislature has a lot of work ahead of them this session to rectify our state’s workers’ compensation system. Which is why to protect Florida employers and employees, AIF created the ‘Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force’ chaired by AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney, and includes esteemed members of Florida’s business community, such as Bill Herrle with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and Mike Costello with Tenet Healthcare.
To help restore a stable, self-executing and affordable system to care for injured workers at affordable costs to employers, the ‘Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force’ has worked tirelessly to deliver a solution and repair this critical issue so Florida can continue to be the best place to do business.
This proposal will allow Floridians to avoid unnecessary, costly and time consuming litigation and get benefits into the hands of injured workers as soon as possible. Under the proposal:
- Employees are free to retain their own attorneys;
- The Workers’ Compensation Act will remain intact, expediting resolution of outstanding cases/issues to avoid costly and prolonged litigation process;
- Injured workers will be attended to by the appropriate medical providers quicker based on mandatory state oversight;
- Unnecessary litigation will be avoided; and
- Personal information of injured workers would not be publicized.
Our state’s leaders must address workers’ compensation in Florida this session in an effort to protect injured workers and have rates that promote job growth and prosperity. Injured workers must be allowed to get healthier; not trial lawyers allowed to get wealthier.
Help Florida Work by preserving Florida’s vital workers’ compensation system.
“I appreciate that Associated Industries of Florida is working to develop a broad collection of ideas on this issue that is so critical to the economic success of Florida and the health and well-being of the Florida Workforce. I look forward to continued conversations on an issue that will undoubtedly play a primary role in our upcoming legislative session, much as it did more than a decade ago.” ~ CFO Jeff Atwater said during the announcement of this critical task force that represents the employer community, insurance carriers and injured workers.