December 20, 2016
Mere days before a scheduled workers’ compensation price increase, a Florida judge halted the increase because of reported legal violations. Another state agency vowed to appeal. Earlier in 2016, the state determined that some parts of Florida’s workers’ compensation laws were unconstitutional.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance, which handles rates proposals, reportedly failed to hold public meetings about the rate increases, in violation of the legal requirements. Other meetings were allegedly held behind closed doors with staff from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, also against state laws. Since the public did not have a voice in setting rates, the proposed hike was stopped.
The proposed increase amount was originally set at 19.6 percent, but the Office of Insurance Regulation later decreased the amount to 14.5 percent. In April, the Florida Supreme Court determined that the state’s limits on lawyers’ fees in workers’ compensation cases were illegal.
The judge submitted a 73-page ruling in the case. She especially focused on the failure to include the public or even advise them of meetings and the failure to keep minutes. The NCCI failed to submit all of the rate-related information as requested.
The battle over workers’ comp could possibly move to the 2017 legislative session. The groups differ as to the root cause of the price increases. Business groups claim that legal fees have forced costs higher. However, lawyers for the injured employees place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the insurance industry.
A representative for a small-business group released a statement, further accusing the lawyers. He feels that the fees for workers’ comp cases are ridiculous and are hindering the legislature. A lawyer who is a member of another workers’ advocacy group countered, calling the ruling a large victory for employees across the state. He hopes that the ruling will stop the secrecy with the NCCI and the excessive rate-hike requests.
After you pay into the workers’ compensation system for years, you expect to receive the payments that are rightfully yours if you are injured while on the job. If you need to file a workers’ compensation lawsuit, talk to the seasoned professionals at our firm.