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State high court rulings to squeeze workers comp system

State high court rulings to squeeze workers comp system

The National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. estimates that an increase in unfunded liabilities for Florida's workers compensation is expected to exceed $1 billion, resulting from three state Supreme Court rulings.

Insurance companies, individual self-insured employers, and employers with deductible policies are expected to saddle the $1 billion debt.

That increase is in addition to the almost 20% rate increase proposed earlier this year, an NCCI news release said.

Most of the 19.6% rate hike suggested in July arises from the Florida Supreme Court issued decisions in Marvin Castellanos v. Next Door Co. et al. and Bradley Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg et al. , which deemed the state's attorney fee schedule and temporary total disability provision unconstitutional, respectively.

These two court decisions changed the fees for attorneys from an attorney fee schedule based on the percentage of benefits secured to an hourly fee.

Prior to these decisions, the last state Supreme Court decision to retroactively change Florida's workers compensation law was Emma Murray in 2008, the statement said, which resulted in a limitation for temporary total benefits increasing from 104 weeks to 269 weeks, after the law change.

If the proposed rate increase — which is suggested to take effect Oct. 1 — is delayed, then the unfunded liability is expected to increase, NCCI said in the statement.



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