Florida orders cut in workers comp rates

By Palm Beach Business.com

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Insurance has ordered a cut in worker’s comp premiums, the result of a bill signed into law by Gov. Chralie Crist.

The move effectively eliminates a 6.4 percent rate hike imposed on April 1 because of a state Supreme Court ruling that eliminated caps on fees lawyers may receive for handling workers comp cases. It restores an 18.6 percent decrease in premiums that went intno effect Jan. 1. It is expected to save employers about $172 million.

Crist signed into law HB 903, which restores the cap and clarifies language in the law that the high court found ambiguous. The new rates take effect July 1.

“I am pleased that Gov. Crist and the Florida Legislature recognized the importance of keeping our workers’ compensation rates down,” said Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said. “I believe that injured workers still will have appropriate access to the legal system while also still keeping workers' compensation rates affordable for employers.”

The caps on legal fees were part of the mammoth overhaul of Florida’s workers comp code in 2003. Before the overhaul, the state had one of the highest workers comp insurance rates in the country. Since then, rates have come down every year, and Florida has dropped out of the top 10 states nationally.

Under the new law, attorneys will continue to be paid on a fee schedule based on the percentage of benefits secured for their clients. Hourly fees will not be allowed.

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JUNE 3, 2009 click to go home
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