Governor Crist Makes It Hard for Florida Worker’s Injured on the Job To Find A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer | Tampa Bay Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
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Front page news on Florida workers compensaton fees: "CRIST SIGNS WORKERS COMP LAWYER FEE CAP By DAVID ROYSE THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, May 29, 2009......Without any fanfare, Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday signed legislation sought by the business community that will restore a statutory fee schedule for plaintiffs lawyers in workers compensation cases. A previous fee schedule that effectively limited how much lawyers can earn for representing injured workers was thrown out by the state Supreme Court last year, leading to widespread fears in the business community that years of declines in workers comp insurance premiums would be reversed. And in fact, it appeared that rates were headed back up - the state Office of Insurance Regulation had already approved one workers comp premium increase citing the Supreme Court ruling last year in Murray v. Mariner. Commissioner Kevin McCarty ordered a 6.4 percent increase in workers' compensation rates in the wake of the ruling, though that can be revisited considering the new law. Opponents of the bill (HB 903) warned during the session that simply restoring the cap and removing statutory language that had been in the previous law that required workers comp fees be "reasonable," simply invited another court challenge. The Supreme Court said in Murray that the law was inconsistent because it limited attorneys fees to what the fee schedule allowed, yet required they be "reasonable," and the two things were sometime incompatible. In the Murray case, the lawyer collected about $8 an hour under the fee schedule. The workers compensation lawyer fee cap was one of several reforms made by lawmakers in 2003 to try to address high premiums. And in addition to a crackdown on fraud, it worked, as premiums dropped fairly steeply over the last few years. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, in the House and Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples in the Senate, was sought by nearly every large and small business group. And they applauded the governor's move Friday. "With unemployment in Florida at 9.6 percent, Florida's employers need these resources to hire more employees and assist them in transitioning through these tough economic times," the Florida Chamber said in a statement. "This legislation ensures injured workers receive more in benefits than plaintiffs' trial lawyers do in fees. " That claim is patently false! Ask any injured Florida worker if they are really getting the Florida workers' compensation benefits they are due and the answer is "NO!". Carrier rountinely and often fraudulently denied care recommended by the doctor they authorize to treat the injured employee. Carrier often hire doctors who are known to say that an injured employee does not need care just to deny benefits. This law makes it harder for injured employees to find lawyers to take their Florida workers' compensation case. I am sure the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which sells workers' compensation policies to its members, is laughing all the way to the bank. I never saw any reduction in my premiums when I was insured by them. I wonder where the profit went that was made by wrongfully denying claims by using hired guns to say "no major contributing cause", or forcing the injured employee to settle so they did not face the all or nothing EMA process invoked by carrier created medical conflicts. It makes me sick to think I am paying a workers' compensation premium to protect my employees when I know what games my workers' compensation carrier will play if one of my employees is injured. The Florida legislature and Governor Crist have once again let the Florida employers and injured workers' down udner the guise of "greedy lawyers and fees." What the Florida public really wants to know is where is the money going that should be paid to injured employees whose workers' compensation claims are wrongfully denied? The sound is deafeing! Answering these broad-based questions isn't easy. Help is a phone call away. You can contact Nancy Cavey, an experienced long-term disability attorney at 727-894-3188.