The Florida Supreme Court has struck down a 2003 legislative change to state workers’ compensation law arbitrarily cutting off temporary total disability benefits after 104 weeks, opting instead to reinstate the previous law, which allowed such benefits to be paid out for a maximum of five years.
The ruling was a huge victory for injured workers in Florida, who have been victimized by numerous efforts to whittle away their workers’ compensation protections.
Of course, that has not been a trend unique to Florida, as a recent ProPublica investigation revealed. Workers’ compensation is supposed to be a “grand bargain” between workers and their employers. It’s original intention was to reduce civil litigation between workers and their bosses by prohibiting the worker from filing an injury lawsuit against the company in exchange for expedient, no-fault benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages. But increasingly, lobbyists have successfully pressed for legislation that has tipped the scales more heavily in favor of the employers, leaving many workers struggling.
That’s why the decision in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg was such an important one. It was actually the second of great importance before the court in as many months. Continue reading →