AIF Workers' Compensation Task Force: 'Workers' compensation system concerns prove to be justified'
Tallahassee, Fla. – The Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) “Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force” today applauded the Florida Senate Banking & Insurance Committee for providing an update on the workers’ compensation system in Florida early on. During public comment, AIF’s task force says “Worker’s compensation system concerns prove to be justified.”
“We applaud the Florida Senate Banking & Insurance Committee for providing an update on the current state of the workers’ compensation system in Florida early on,” said AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney. “Currently, Florida’s employers and employees are at the mercy of a system whose rates have only just begun to skyrocket; and, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“It is vital lawmakers work this legislative session to deliver sound policies that will allow Florida to restore a stable, self-executing and affordable workers’ compensation system,” said Feeney. “The uncontrolled attorney fees that have resulted from the Florida Supreme Court ruling on Castellanos must be reeled in, so that injured workers can get healthier and businesses can continue to thrive in the Sunshine State.”
AIF’s “Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force” is chaired by Feeney, and includes esteemed members of Florida’s business community, including:
- 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
“Florida employers and employees’ concerns with the workers’ compensation system prove to be justified,” said Jim McConnaughhay, who is board certified in worker’s compensation law, representing AIF in its efforts to correct Florida’s broken workers’ compensation system. “Since August, our task force has been diligently seeking input from the general public, and among some of the concerns we’ve heard are the fact that we are looking at cost increases to municipalities, counties and in state appropriations.”
McConnaughhay outlined the following cost impacts to the workers’ compensation system since the Florida Supreme Court’s decisions in the cases of Castellanos and Westphal, including:
- Premium costs increased by average of approximately 14 percent.
- Petitions/claims for benefits filed by attorneys increased by over 20 percent.
- An estimated $1 billion unfunded liability on the insurance injury developed.
- Comparing attorney fees paid from May – September 2015 to fees paid from May – September 2016 (after the decision in the Supreme Court cases), an additional $15,600,000 was paid. (The average fee in 2015 during this time period was $4,095. After the cases, the amount increased to $4,978.)
- Florida moved from the 33rd most expensive workers’ compensation state to the 23rd just on the increased costs reflected in the 14 percent increase in rates.
The task force is continuing its collaborative efforts that began in Summer 2016 with the Helping Florida Work Town Hall meetings held across the state. The study commission is currently considering all aspects of the Workers’ Compensation Act in Florida to restore a stable, self-executing and affordable system to care for injured workers.