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Florida bill would allow workers comp opt out

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A Florida lawmaker reportedly has introduced a bill that would allow companies in the state to forgo purchasing workers compensation insurance. 

The bill, introduced Wednesday by state Rep. Cord Byrd, a Republican from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, would permit employers to elect not to purchase workers comp insurance, according to a copy of the legislation posted online by Florida Politics. Employers that don’t provide workers comp coverage would be required to notify their employees, and their workers would be allowed to file tort claims against the company if injured at work.

Texas is the only state that allows employers to opt out of purchasing workers comp coverage.

Recent Florida Supreme Court decisions have placed pressure on the state’s workers comp system.

In April, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state's attorney fee schedule violated due process under state and federal law as it hindered an injured worker's ability to obtain legal representation. In June, the state high court ruled that Florida's 104-week cap on temporary total disability benefits was unconstitutional.

State workers comp advisory rates increased 14.5% this month in the wake of those court rulings. While a Florida Circuit Court judge ruled last month to void the rate hike, the increase took effect on Dec. 1 after an appeal was filed by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.