Session Draws to Close with No Workers’ Compensation Solution
With only the formal act of adopting the state budget remaining, the 2017 Florida legislative session will close without reforms to Florida’s workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ compensation became a high profile issue for the 2017 session after several court cases determined portions of the existing statutes to be unconstitutional. The workers’ compensation system depends on the statutory benefits being a reasonable alternative to the court system, given the balancing of public policy considerations. Courts began to find that certain restrictions on benefits or attorneys’ fees resulted in a system that did not provide a viable alternative to court actions.
These decisions prompted a rate filing from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) that ultimate resulted in average rate increases of nearly 15%. Many business groups and other parties hoped the 2017 legislature would take action to mitigate or negate the rate increases. However, in the absence of revisions this year, the increased costs to the workers’ compensation system will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.