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Thursday, June 9, 2016

FL Supreme Court Rules Yet Another Part of the Work Comp Law Unconstitutional

The Florid Supreme Court today ruled yet another part of the Florida Workers' Compensation Act unconstitutional. The cut off of benefits provision was declared unconstitutional. The future of workers' compensation law in FL is now uncertain.

"In this case, we consider the constitutionality of section 440.15(2)(a), Florida Statutes (2009)—part of the state’s workers’ compensation law—which cuts off disability benefits after 104 weeks to a worker who is totally disabled and - 2 - incapable of working but who has not yet reached maximum medical improvement. We conclude that this portion of the worker’s compensation statute is unconstitutional under article I, section 21, of the Florida Constitution, as a denial of the right of access to courts, because it deprives an injured worker of disability benefits under these circumstances for an indefinite amount of time— thereby creating a system of redress that no longer functions as a reasonable alternative to tort litigation."
"Applying the statute’s plain meaning, we conclude that the 104-week limitation on temporary total disability benefits results in a statutory gap in benefits, in violation of the constitutional right of access to courts."
"Accordingly, we hold that the statute as written by the Legislature is unconstitutional. However, we conclude that this unconstitutional limitation on temporary total disability benefits does not render the entire workers’ - 6 - compensation system invalid. 2" 

BRADLEY WESTPHAL,Petitioner,vs.CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG, etc., et al.,Respondents., No. SC13-1976 Decided June 9, 2016