The Florida Supreme Court is debating arguments heard last week about the constitutionality of the state’s workers’ compensation system, and whether they have jurisdiction to decide the matter at all, according to news reports.
The final decision from the court is not expected for a few months, but business, insurance, labor and legal groups are already monitoring the case due to the extensive changes that could be at hand if the court decides the current workers’ compensation laws are unconstitutional.
The court heard arguments against the current system from attorney Mark Zeitz on behalf of his client, former Hialeah Hospital nurse Daniel Stahl. Stahl was injured at the hospital in 2003 while he was lifting a patient.
Zeitz’s argument contends that workers’ compensation is unconstitutional in its current construction because it takes away legal rights from workers without sufficient benefits in return.
If you were injured at work and believe you are not being fairly compensated, contact us for a free, no obligation case evaluation.
How Does Workers’ Compensation, Compensate?
Workers compensation was set up as a sort of compromise between employers and their employees.
In the current system employees give up their right to civil litigation against their employer if they are injured on the job, and in return the employer is required to buy workers’ compensation insurance that covers medical bills and part of workers’ wages until they’re able to return to work. For more severe injuries, after which people can no longer work, the insurance will permanently cover lost wages.
However, states around the country have been hacking away at workers’ compensation laws for decades, and the results of those cuts are being felt by low wage workers who need the benefits of workers’ compensation the most.
Florida’s History with Workers’ Compensation Laws
In 2003, the Florida legislature cut benefits for workers’ compensation in response to complaints from employers around the state that workers’ compensation insurance premiums were out of control.
Florida had the second highest workers’ compensation premiums in the entire country in 2003, but by 2008 it had fallen below the national average. Since then, premiums around the country have continued to fall, and now sit at a 25-year low.
Yet, despite falling premiums the Florida legislature never restored the cuts they made to workers’ compensation in 2003.
Florida’s highest court is now considering the constitutionality of the law after the 2003 changes, and has heard two other workers’ compensation cases in the last year.
While hearing arguments in this case the judges acknowledged that workers’ comp has been diminished in recent decades, though they were unsure if the court has the power to do what Zeitz was asking.
Until a decision is made, the current system that favors employers and insurance companies will remain in effect.
Insurance companies and employers often attempt to find reasons to deny and minimize compensation for employees who were injured on the job. If you were injured on the job and would like to make sure you are being fairly compensated, our workers’ compensation attorneys can help. Contact us for a free, no obligation case evaluation to find out if you are receiving the correct compensation for your workplace injuries today.