Insurance Trade Issues Statement on Florida’s Supreme Court Workers Compensation Hearing

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Today, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital, the third of three currently pending cases that ask the Florida Supreme Court to address the constitutionality of Florida’s Workers Compensation system. The other cases are Castellanos v Next Door Company, et al and Westphal v City of St. Petersburg. Plaintiffs in Stahl question whether the state's workers compensation system remains adequate in light of 2003 reforms that eliminated permanent partial disability benefits. Plaintiffs in Castellanos assert that injured workers are hindered in obtaining legal advice because of certain attorney fee provisions in the statute. In Westphal, plaintiffs claim that the state’s 104 week cap on temporary total disability benefits is inadequate. The following statement can be attributed to Trey Gillespie, senior director, workers compensation for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

“PCI and our members believe that an adverse decision in this case, in which the plaintiffs seek to weaken or eliminate the exclusive remedy provision of Florida’s workers compensation system, could significantly destabilize Florida’s business environment.

“The workers compensation system provides essential benefits to injured workers in a timely, efficient, and economically sound manner and the exclusive remedy provision is a bedrock principle that helps to balance the interests of employees and employers.

“It’s important that the legal framework for accommodating the medical needs and replacement income for employees is preserved while fostering a healthy market for workers compensation in the state of Florida.”

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PCI promotes and protects the viability of a competitive private insurance market for the benefit of consumers and insurers. PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write more than $183 billion in annual premium, 35 percent of the nation's property casualty insurance. Member companies write 42 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 27 percent of the homeowners market, 32 percent of the commercial property and liability market and 34 percent of the private workers compensation market.

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The workers compensation system provides essential benefits to injured workers in a timely, efficient, and economically sound manner and the exclusive remedy provision is a bedrock principle that helps to balance the interests of employees and employers.
Trey Gillespie