In April 2016, the Florida Supreme Court is set to hear a constitutional challenge to the state’s workers’ compensation laws that could affect how injured workers in Orlando can resolve workplace injury claims. The challenge hopes to overturn the elimination of certain partial disability benefits that were eliminated when the Florida legislature reworked the state’s workers’ compensation system in 2003.
The case, Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital, et al., began in 2003 when plaintiff Daniel Stahl was injured while working as a nurse in Hialeah Hospital near Miami. Two years later, his treating physician determined he reached his maximum medical improvement and Stahl was given a 6 percent impairment rating, effectively ended his career as a nurse.
Insurance claims adjusters later determined Stahl did not meet the standard for permanent total disability and denied his claim. That set off a legal fight in which Stahl asserted the state’s 2003 revamped workers’ compensation system was unconstitutional since it did not provide adequate relief for his condition.
Interest groups on both sides weigh in
The case has prompted attention from both business lobbyists and workers’ interest groups. Business groups and insurance interests worry changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system could mean higher payouts and a larger claims for injured workers, setting off a chain reaction that could have serious ramifications on the economy.
Florida courts recently heard another constitutional challenge to the state’s workers’ compensation system, alleging the system’s exclusive remedy to resolve workplace injury claims was unconstitutional. That claim was rebuffed but two other cases in addition to Stahl’s are slated to be heard by the high court.
Other constitutional challenges loom
An additional claim by a St. Petersburg firefighter is challenging the constitutionality of the 104-week time limit for temporary total disability benefits. The plaintiff in this case exhausted his disability benefits but could no longer work and did not have any other benefits extended to him since doctors could not determine his long term health outlook.
The third challenge to Florida’s workers’ compensation laws involves attorney’s fees lawyers representing clients may recoup when benefits are successfully recovered. Attorneys for the plaintiff argue the fees attorneys may recover are so low, it hinders injured workers from being able to recover the benefits they need to recover.
Orlando workers’ compensation attorneys
Although Florida law requires employers to carry workers’ compensation benefits to provide medical treatment and help make up lost wages to employees hurt in workplace accidents, insurance companies may not always take claims seriously. Insurance companies and employers may assert injuries were not workplace-related or are not serious enough to warrant disability claims.
If you or a loved one was hurt on the job, help secure the benefits you are entitled to and contact a qualified Orlando workers’ compensation attorney about your case. An attorney can make sure your paperwork is in order, you visit the right doctor, and any appeals are filed to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.