Palm Beach Post writerTom Blackburn provides a startling glimpse at how workers’ compensation reform is impacting injured workers in Florida.
In 2003, Florida lawmakers passed legislation to limit fees for attorneys who represent injured workers. The result? Without attorneys to advocate for them, workers’ benefits have dropped precipitously.
As Blackburn observes:
In 2003, the last year under the old law, there were 22,153 settlements, usually involving a lawyer, with the average payment $21,196. The numbers have declined every year since then. In 2006, 2,824 such cases show an average settlement of $9,649. Many cases settle late, so the complete totals for each of the past few years will rise. But they won’t get near 2003 levels, and the trend line is consistently down. And remember, delay is profitable for the insurer and painful for the injured worker.
Quite simply, the insurance companies are denying workers their benefits or railroading them into inadequate settlements that don’t provide ample compensation for their injuries, lost wages or medical bills.