With Falling Comp Rates, Attorney Fee Caps May Not Be Burning Issue for Lawmakers
Thursday, November 19, 2020 | 275 | 0 | 21 min read
Florida legislative leaders have signaled that workers' compensation costs may not be such a hot-button issue when lawmakers convene again in March.
The Legislature met briefly this week to swear in newly elected members and get organized. Committee hearings won't start until January, and the regular session starts March 2. In news conferences Tuesday, the new Senate and House leaders said comp rates and limits on attorney fees may or may not be on the agenda.
Since the famous Castellanos v. Next Door ruling in 2016, in which the Florida Supreme Court struck down statutory limits on attorney fees, Florida saw one workers' compensation rate increase but four decreases since then.
“Now, kind of the prevailing wisdom is maybe don’t fix something that is not broken at the moment when it comes to workers’ comp and to the rates,” House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said Tuesday, according to a news report. “Certainly, I'm willing to look at it, but I think certainly the rate trends are a good indicator.”
The Senate president, Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, was asked if the Senate would consider reinstating attorney fee caps. He said, “potentially.”
Bills were introduced in 2017 and 2018 to try again with caps on the legal fees. They passed the House but stalled in the Senate.
Simpson also said he opposes measures that would give essential businesses immunity from lawsuits resulting from COVID-19 sickness.
“Any legislation we would pass, I cannot imagine that we are going to let people off the hook for negligence,” Simpson said. “I don’t think you ever in any condition put a blanket statement that no one would have any liability associated with COVID.”