Workers’ compensation is one of the most important issues for Florida businesses and their employees. Florida law requires employers to purchase coverage to ensure that workers who are injured on the job have ready access to medical care, receive monetary benefits while they are unable to work, and get the vocational assistance they need to return to work as quickly as possible. The system and its objectives are winning strategies for employers, employees, and for the state’s economy.
Over the past decade, the state’s workers’ compensation market has experienced some turbulent periods when the market was on the verge of collapse. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Florida companies were hard pressed to find coverage and when it was available, the prices were astronomical, forcing companies to either avoid obtaining coverage or go out of business.
AIF recognized the urgent need for significant system reform and formed the Workers’ Compensation Coalition of Business and Insurance Industry to:
- educate lawmakers about the nature of the system,
- its potential for failure or success, and
- to develop viable solutions that would reduce fraud, lower rates, and create a healthy workers’ compensation market.
The Coalition’s efforts were realized in 2003 with the passage of sweeping workers’ compensation reforms.
Since 2003, Florida’s rates have decreased over 50%, coverage is readily available and affordable and workers’ have returned to work more quickly after receiving necessary medical treatment without prolonged and unnecessary litigation.
A NEW CHALLENGE:
Despite this success, however, the Florida Supreme Court issued a ruling on October 23, 2008, that will undermine these advances and negate the positive impacts that law has had on the workers’ compensation market and the business climate of the state. The full extent of the impact of this ruling remains to be seen. However, we know that litigation will increase, costs will increase and therefore rates will increase.
The business community must work diligently in the months ahead to motivate the Legislature to swiftly and succinctly respond to the Court’s ruling. The Legislature must clarify the attorney fee statute to guarantee that the workers’ compensation market remains viable by limiting attorney fees and allowing employers to control their costs of providing this important coverage to their injured employees.
Once again, the Coalition is ready to act. We remain united in our efforts to provide the Florida Legislature with the resources it needs to maintain the successful workers’ compensation system that the 2003 reforms have created in the past 5 years.
If you are in business in Florida, we urge you to review the information and suggestions we have compiled in this website and join this Coalition today to fight to keep Florida working!