AIF Announces Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force

AIF Task Force to Help Restore Stable, Self-executing & Affordable Workers’ Compensation System in Florida

July 28, 2016

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today announced the formation of its ‘Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force,’ which will come together with the goal of restoring a stable, self-executing and affordable workers’ compensation system in Florida as the Florida Legislature intended. 

“Today, we are excited to announce the formation of the ‘Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force that will continue the collaborative efforts that we began this summer with our Helping Florida Work Town Hall meetings across the state,” said AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney.  “After hearing from our elected leaders and business community from all corners of the state on how the recent Florida Supreme Court rulings have impacted our state’s workers’ compensation system, we were compelled to continue to help restore a stable, self-executing and affordable workers’ compensation system in Florida as the Florida Legislature intended all along.”

Joining AIF in announcing this critical task force that represents the employer community, insurance carriers and injured workers is Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

“I appreciate that Associated Industries of Florida is working to develop a broad collection of ideas on this issue that is so critical to the economic success of Florida and the health and well-being of the Florida Workforce,” said CFO Atwater.  “I look forward to continued conversations on an issue that will undoubtedly play a primary role in our upcoming legislative session, much as it did more than a decade ago.”

The ‘Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force’ will be chaired by Feeney with the following subgroups and chairs:

  • Small Employer: Bill Herrle with the National Federation of Independent Business
  • Large Employer: Marc Salm with Publix Supermarkets
  • Domestic Insurance Carrier: Tom Koval with FCCI Insurance Group
  • National Insurance Carrier: Jeff Fenster with AmTrust Financial Services
  • Health Care Provider: Mike Costello with Tenet Healthcare
  • Representing Injured Workers: Jim Tolley with Florida Professional Firefighters and Matt Puckett with Florida Police Benevolent Association


In addition to the task force outlined above, noted Workers’ Compensation Attorney Jim McConnaughhay with McConnaughhay, Coonrod, Pope, Weaver & Stern, P.A. will be working with AIF and the task force.

The study commission will be considering all aspects of the Workers' Compensation Act in Florida to restore a stable, self-executing and affordable system to care for injured workers.  A task force goal will be to relieve as soon as possible the pressure on rates, while simultaneously searching for the optimal policies to protect injured workers and have rates that promote job growth and prosperity.

Known as “The Voice of Florida Business” in the Sunshine State, AIF has represented the principles of prosperity and free enterprise before the three branches of state government since 1920. A voluntary association of diversified businesses, AIF was created to foster an economic climate in Florida conducive to the growth, development, and welfare of industry and business and the people of the state.

For more information on AIF, please visit AIF.com and follow @VoiceofFLBiz.

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Background: How the workers’ compensation system worked in Florida before the recent Supreme Court rulings:

Worked for Employees:

  • Workplaces are safer – on-the-job injuries have declined about 30 percent in Florida since 2003.
  • Injured workers get medical treatment more easily without litigation.
  • More than 80 percent of all work injuries are resolved without litigation even though attorneys are still involved in over 40 percent of cases – no decline since 2003.
  • Injured workers return to work quicker and receive higher benefits if they are unable to earn their pre-injury wage.
  • More employees have coverage because fraudulent employers are investigated, fined and prosecuted for trying to evade the law requiring all employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Medical bills are timely paid 99 percent of the time due to increased penalties and reporting requirements imposed by the state.

Worked for Employers:

  • Since 2003, when our rates were the highest in the nation, employers have realized an average 59.1 percent rate reduction.  Even with four years of rate increases (2011-2014), Florida was ranked 24th lowest countrywide in 2016.
  • Over 95 percent of all employers are able to secure coverage in the private market, signaling a healthy system that is sustainable in the self-executing manner the Florida Legislature intended when it passed this law in 2003.

What About the Lawyers:

  • Statutory benefit levels provided for injured workers have been legally challenged in only one case before the Florida Supreme Court – Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg.  While the court ruled the 104-week cap on temporary total disability benefits unconstitutional, the reality is that most injured workers return to work in a small fraction of that time.  The facts of Westphal are a rarity, but the unconstitutional ruling will incentivize litigation and unnecessarily delay settlements.
  • Attorney fee issues are the only significant subject of the current law that has been repeatedly challenged and appealed in the courts since the passage.
  • The Castellanos court sanctioned an excessive fee of $38,000 for securing an $800 benefit.  Injured workers will NOT receive greater benefits under this ruling – but the lawyers will see bigger paydays.

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