In a workers’ compensation case pending before Florida’s Supreme Court, the employer, Hialeah Hospital, is claiming the injured worker failed to follow necessary procedures to allow the Supreme Court to review the case at all. This seems to be just another attempt on the part of an Employer/Carrier to skirt responsibility for a worker injured on the job.
One of Lancaster & Eure’s fellow members in Florida’s Workers’ Advocates (FWA), an advocacy group of workers’ compensation claimant attorneys which fights for the rights of all injured workers in Florida, is representing the claimant in this highly controversial and significant case. The injured worker is challenging the constitutionality of the current Workers’ Compensation laws in Florida. The heart of the claimant’s argument is centered around their claim that the amendments enacted by Florida’s legislature, spanning from 1935 (when the law was created) to 2003, have continually favored employers and insurance companies rather than the injured workers the law was designed to protect. The results of these amendments have been far-reaching; however, they have made the system inadequate when it comes to the protection of rights of injured workers by steadily removing benefits available to them. Every amendment which removed benefits for injured workers has provided nothing to the injured workers in return, and thus, they are left with a system which fails them. The dispute in this particular Florida’s Supreme Court case pivots around the previously available benefits for partial disability, which were repealed with the enactment of the 2003 amendments to the Florida Workers’ Compensation laws.
In this case, the claimant, a nurse, injured his back while lifting a patient at work. He was left with permanent impairment and restrictions to avoid heavy lifting. With this impairment and these restrictions in place, the claimant was unable to return to his nursing position with the hospital, forcing him to take a job as an instructor at a nursing school. Unfortunately, his post-accident employment as an instructor resulted in a significant pay decrease from the position as a nurse he held before the accident. If lawmakers had considered the detriment of the 2003 amendments to the injured worker prior to their enactment, benefits which would assist this injured worker’s recovery, both medically and financially, following his accident would still be in place. Sadly, the claimant was injured in December of 2003, mere weeks after the amendments removing the partial disability benefits took effect.
Florida is known for being business-friendly, and a promising state in which to begin or expand business ventures, but at what price? Should the citizens and workers of Florida be exploited and forced to suffer in order to improve Florida’s business climate? At Lancaster & Eure, we fight for the rights of the citizens and injured workers of our great state, and do not rest until our clients receive the benefits they truly deserve.
If you have a question about workers’ compensation laws in Florida, or have been injured while at work, call (941) 365-7575 or Contact Us today for your free consultation.