In April 2016, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in Castellanos v. Next Door that statutory caps on the amount attorneys could charge injured workers in workers’ compensation cases “violates the state and federal constitutional guarantees of due process. This decision, in part, lead to a 14.5-percent increase in workers’ compensation rates. And, the fear from some is that rate increases will continue. According to the Associated Industries of Florida, the impact of this decision may cause workers’ compensation rates to increase as much as 35-40 percent and “will impact hiring and slow growth.”
The 2017 rate increases did not fare well before Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers. In November 2016, Judge Gievers ruled that the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the organization that files rate proposals, did not comply with the law requiring public meetings during its deliberations. Judge Gievers also ruled that NCCI improperly held closed-door meetings with the Office of Insurance Regulation’s staff. Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation and NCCI appealed Judge Gievers’ ruling. The case is currently before Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.
As the legal battle continues, Florida’s Legislature remains in session, and several bills have been introduced addressing changes to Florida’s workers’ compensation system. However, none have been passed yet.
While the court case continues and the legislature works to pass a law addressing the workers’ compensation system, business owners should continue to monitor the situation. Business owners should also contact their elected officials to discuss the need for legislation addressing the costs of workers’ compensation insurance