January 26, 2009
Today, Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty issued an order increasing workers' compensation premiums by 6.4% effective April 1, 2009. This order is a direct result of the Florida Supreme Court's recent ruling in Murray v. ACE/Mariner Health, that nullified the attorney fee limitations of the workers' compensation law that were a pivotal element of Florida's 2003 workers' compensation reforms. This increase is expected to be only the beginning of the dramatic increased costs to Florida employers if the Florida Legislature does not change the statute immediately to address the Murray ruling. In issuing today's rate increase, Commissioner McCarty predicted "....we will see these rates start to go up as more attorneys get back involved, likely extending the litigation process, with workers’ compensation cases."
In today's precarious economy, this additional cost increase is the last thing Florida employers need. AIF's General Counsel, Tamela Perdue chairs the state's Workers' Compensation Coalition for Business and Industry which represents the unified business organizations throughout the state who are committed to working together to craft a legislative solution that addresses the Court's concerns over attorney's fees and maintains a fair and predictable system. AIF considers today's ruling another rallying cry for business owners and elected officials.
"We urge the Legislature to acknowledge the financial burden this decision places on Florida employers and support their efforts to maintain the delicate balance required to keep the workers' compensation system functioning and making coverage available and affordable."
We also urge all AIF members to join the Coalition and contact your local legislators to show them your support for their immediate action this session to correct this decision and to end the costly litigation roller coaster that workers' compensation in Florida could so quickly become.