If Florida’s workers’ comp rate increases by a proposed 19.6 percent, the Florida Chamber of Commerce warned recently while testifying at a Tallahassee hearing, the state’s business-friendly atmosphere could be severely compromised.
During the Office of Insurance Regulation’s (OIR) workers’ compensation rate increase hearing, Florida Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Mark Wilson said the increase will significantly affect both injured workers and job creators statewide.
“It’s a lucrative deal for personal injury trial lawyers, but a raw deal for injured workers who won’t gain a dime, and may even be out of work longer,” Wilson said at the hearing. “Florida businesses care about their injured workers and want to make them whole. But now, thanks to the Supreme Court and plaintiff trial lawyers, it’s okay to collect fees nearly 50 times as much as the injured workers [judgment].”
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the nation’s insurance rating and data collection agency, earlier recommended the increase after the Florida Supreme Court nullified portions of Florida’s workers’ comp system in two separate cases. If OIR authorizes the 19.6 percent spike, Florida’s would become the highest rate in the Southeastern U.S.
“It would prevent a company that has 150 workers from hiring one more,” Florida Chamber Workers’ Comp Task Force co-chair Debbie Harvey, president and COO of Ron Jon Surf Shop, said.
The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Compensation Task Force, established in 2003, intends to collaborate with several agencies to resolve the quandary, including the OIR, the Division of Workers’ Compensation and the Florida Legislature.