Workers' compensation costs in Florida have spiraled out of control in the wake of two state Supreme Court rulings this year, Carolyn Johnson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce told members of the state Senate Banking and Insurance Committee during a hearing earlier this month.
“A $1.5 billion tab that is not about employee safety or protecting workers, but about increasing compensation for plaintiff trial lawyers is harmful to Florida’s competitiveness,” Johnson, the chamber’s director of business, economic development & innovation policy, said. “The Florida Chamber’s Workers’ Comp Task Force believes that a legislative solution should include tying attorney fees to the amount of benefits secured for the injured worker.”
The chamber said in a release that the extra costs were caused by two Florida State Supreme Court rulings this year that declared portions of the state’s workers' compensation program unconstitutional.
Although a judge’s decision in late November voided a 14.5 percent increase, that action is now under appeal, leaving the Dec. 1 rate increases in place until the matter is resolved.
Johnson said her constituents believe the rate increase will “raise prices, reduce benefits, delay hiring or even cut existing jobs” to pay for the rate increase.
“We support legislative efforts to normalize rates … to prevent future spikes so our businesses can plan for their future(s),” Todd Thomson, vice president of public affairs for the Greater Pensacola Chamber, told the Senate committee..