Florida employers are bracing for a big hike in workers’ compensation rates.
Business groups, including the Florida Swimming Pool Association, are working together to find a solution.
The impending rate increase has to do with personal injury trial lawyers and the fees they charge. Under current state law, attorneys are paid 20 percent for the first $5,000 and 15 percent of the next $5,000 of any benefits they help secure.
However, a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court changes that. In April, justices ruled that capping attorney fees was unconstitutional.
The 5-2 decision was made in a case that involved an attorney who was paid less than $200 after working more than 100 hours to successfully represent an injured worker. Justices determined that attorneys should be able to charge a reasonable amount and not be limited to the state’s scheduled legal fees.
Critics of the high court’s ruling say such an increase will be a significant setback to small businesses. Policyholders fear that legal fees in workers’ comp cases will skyrocket as a result. The National Council on Compensation Insurance is requesting that the state approve a controlled rate hike, which would allow for a 17 percent increase to the cost of workers’ compensation insurance to employers.
If approved, it could go into effect in August.