Florida Justice Association denounces House workers’ comp package

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Trial attorneys issued a denunciation Monday of the workers’ compensation reform package now headed for a House floor vote.

HB 7085 is “a handout to the insurance industry and its big-business allies – one that does little to benefit injured workers or most employers,” the Florida Justice Association said in a written statement.

“The plan wipes out countless injured workers’ ability to afford legal help when insurance companies wrongfully deny benefits, without providing other new benefits to offset this added burden,” the organization said.

Real reform would allow workers some choice in their doctors, a “mid-level” tier for benefits, competition between insurers on rates, and “reasonable” attorney fees, said Richard Chait, chairman of the workers’ compensation section.

“The eventual outcome of the current approach will be that more injured workers will receive inadequate health care treatment to help them recover,” he said.

“Injured workers will be hard-pressed to return to work with their employer, and this will put an additional drain on government social programs. In the end, the burden for those costs will be shouldered by Florida taxpayers.”

The House bill passed it’s final committee stop Thursday. It would retain a fee schedule for attorneys who prevail in benefits challenges, but would allow them to charge insurers as much as $150 per hour on approval by a judge of compensation claims.

Insurers would be spared paying fees for claims upon which they prevail — meaning the workers would have to pick up the tab.

Senate legislation, SB 1582, is friendlier toward the trial bar.

“The (House) bill in its current form misses an opportunity to enact true, balanced, and comprehensive reform to make the system better for injured workers,” Chait added. “The only people smiling about this proposal are the corporate and insurance special interests who received a windfall at the expense of workers.”

House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee chairman Danny Burgess has defended the bill as striking a balance between the needs of injured workers, employers, and insurers.

“There’s no question that the injured worker is one piece of the heart of the balance of the grand bargain,” Burgess said in an interview last week.

Update: Later, Associated Industries of Florida released its own statement on behalf of Brewster Bevis, senior vice president of state and federal affairs for Associated Industries of Florida.

“Contrary to the trial lawyers looking out for their own self interests, Florida’s employers and employees are at the top of mind with the newly amended workers’ compensation legislation,” Bevis said.

The House bill “addresses key measures that allow for a stable, self-executing and affordable workers’ compensation system for injured workers,” he continued.

“The trial lawyers plain and simply do not like this legislation because it does not allow them to get richer on the backs of injured workers. On behalf of Florida’s business community, we look forward to seeing this legislation advance so Florida’s employees are able to get healthier at reasonable rates to Florida employers.”

Staff Reports


4 comments

  • Judicial Watch

    April 11, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Let me guess
    The bill was drafted by attorneys and insurance lobbyist
    The shame continues
    As always….Follow the money…..or who gets it

    • Lily

      April 11, 2017 at 9:42 am

      I am terribly concerned with the workers having to spend their own money to hire a lawyer where their employers unfairly denies their claims.

  • Mark L. Zientz

    April 11, 2017 at 10:16 am

    If you believe that the House bill does anything to assist injured workers, I have a Bridge in Brooklyn to sell. This bill only benefits insurance companies and large self insured employers and throws the rest of the business community under the bus.
    This bill does nothing to place the buden of injury on the employers, even grossly negligent employers, and places the burden of on the job injury on the injured workers, social safety nets and taxpayers who subsidize unsafe working conditions. The 2003 amendments came close to court rulings that would strip employers of immunity from lawsuits in exchange for inadequate benefits. Next time will be much different, especially if injured workers have to pay the insurance company atorney fees and costs if they file claims in good faith based on the opinions of an authorized insurance company picked doctor but happen to have a judge who believes the false testimony of a bought and paid for insurance company IME doctor.

  • Julio Fernandez

    April 11, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Bevis – “The trial lawyers plain and simply do not like this legislation because it does not allow them to get richer on the backs of injured workers.”
    …says the spokesman for the industry that charges insurance premiums, wrongfully denies legitimate claims, then asked for and received a 15% rate increase. I wonder who’s really getting richer on the backs of injured workers…
    It’s much easier to blame the lawyers than to address the real problem.

Comments are closed.


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