THE FLORIDA HOUSE PUTS THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SYSTEM BACK ON THE SIDE OF WORKING MEN AND WOMEN
Tallahassee, FL—Today, Speaker Richard Corcoran, along with bill sponsor, Representative Danny Burgess, released the following statements upon passage of HB 7009, tackling issues facing the workers compensation system.
Speaker Corcoran said, “The goal of the workers compensation system should always be to make the worker whole and get them back to work. I believe we can protect injured workers, get them the care they need to return to work, and keep costs down. Chairman Burgess and the committee have worked tirelessly to get us to where we are today. Their work will provide certainty and stability to employers and allow everyone to refocus on the health and well-being of working men and women.”
Representative Burgess said, “This is, hands down, the most important economic and jobs issue we face as a Florida legislature. Our mission was to stabilize a system that has had to deal with judicial and legislative instability for too long. Employers deserve to know what their costs will be, workers deserve to know there’s a system there that will protect them, and parties involved deserve to be fairly compensated for their efforts. I thank my fellow committee members and all my colleagues who approach this issue in good faith and I hope the Senate will join us in this vital economic and jobs issue.”
HB 7009 passed 74-30
What HB 7009 Does:
The bill makes the following changes to the workers’ compensation law:
- Permits direct payment of attorneys by or for claimants.
- Increases total combined temporary wage replacement benefits (TTD/TPD) from 104 weeks to 260 weeks.
- Allows a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) to award an hourly fee that departs from the statutory percentage based attorney fee schedule. o This is only permitted if the statutory fee is less than 40 percent or greater than 125 percent of the hourly rate customarily charged in the local community by defense attorneys, with the JCC determining the relevant facts. o If the departure fee is allowed, the JCC determines the hourly rate, not to exceed $150 per hour, using statutory factors and the number of necessary attorney hours.
- Requires a good faith effort by the claimant and their attorney to resolve disputes prior to filing a petition for benefits; mandates a specified notice regarding attorney fees be signed by the claimant; increases the requirements applicable to petitions for benefits; eliminates carrier paid attorney fees for services occurring before the filing a petition; attaches attorney fees 45 days, rather than 30 days, following the filing of a petition; requires a JCC to dismiss a petition for lack of specificity, without prejudice, within 10 days or 20 days, depending upon whether a hearing is required.
- Requires the authorization or denial of medical care authorization requests, unless there is a material deficiency.
- Provides for collecting additional information on attorney fees.