Worker’s Compensation Case Update

Following the recent Florida Supreme Court Case of Murray v. Mariner Health, employers, industry in general, and the insurance carriers who cover them, have all acted hastily in an effort to curtail the positive results of that case. Murray requires employers and their carriers to pay “reasonable attorney fees” when a claimant’s benefits are wrongfully denied. In response, the Florida Insurance Commisioner recently approved a 6.4 % adjustment in the workers comp. insurance rate effective April 1, 2009. This is in spite of the National Counsel on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) 8.9 % recommended increase as well as the knowledge that employer/carrier paid attorneys fees accounted for only 6% of the cost of the work comp. system. Florida’s Chamber of Commerce has stated that one of their top legislative priorities in the upcoming legislative session will be to “fix the attorneys fee glitch” in our workers comp. cases. The Orlando workers compensation attorneys at Vaughan Law Group have been to Tallahassee in past years and will continue to go to Tallahassee in the upcoming years in an effort to minimize the industry’s continuing attempts to slash benefits for injured workers in the state of Florida. The workers comp. system in this state should be fair to insurers, employers and injured workers alike. The insurance industry’s continuing attempts to obtain ridiculously high profits at the expense of employers, injured workers, and tax payers should be held in check. The Florida Consurmer Advocate, in a recent study, concluded that NCCI has been filing for the approval rates that have overcharged Florida employers by an average of 24.6% during the past decade. The most recently approved rate adjustments continue to undermine checks already present within the workers comp. system. The Orlando workers compensation lawyers at Vaughan Law Group will continue to commit themselves to fight these inequities.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee recently met and received presentations concerning the Murray decision. The chief judge of the judges of compensations claims discussed the effects of attorney fees in the litigation process. A representative from NCCI discussed their rationale behind requesting and 8.9% rate adjustment in premiums to consumers. A representative from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulations discussed their reasons for a lower 6.4% rate adjustment. It is noted that, even after this rate adjustment, an employer who renews its workers compensation policy on or after April 1, 2009 will still see a decrease of 12% or more in their rates.

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