This week marks the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the darkest moments of America’s industrial history. On that day, extremely dangerous work conditions started a fire at a garment factory in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Within 20 minutes, 146 people were dead -almost all of them young immigrant women. America reacted with justified outrage, and that outrage became a turning point in the history of the U.S. and global labor movements. In the following decades, many of the Workers’ Compensation laws we now see as obvious and logical were put into place to protect those who truly needed it. However, 104 years later, it has become clear that too many individuals in this country have forgotten the very painful lessons of that day. All one has to do is look to the Workers’ Compensation system in Florida to see those lessons from the Triangle fire increasingly overshadowed by many factors, namely special interest groups lobbying Florida’s legislature. These special interest groups have been working for years to make sure the Workers’ Compensation law in Florida is crafted to benefit the insurance carriers at the expense of injured workers. Although these groups have the power and resources to influence those in the legislature, individuals in our firm are continually working to make sure the voices of injured workers are not silenced by those special interest groups. The attorneys in our firm have dedicated their time and expertise to lobby on behalf of injured workers in order to ensure those in the legislature know the true effect of these laws, and the plight of those injured on the job.
The effects of those lobbying efforts by the special interest groups are extremely tangible. Florida is one of the worst states to be injured on the job. As noted in this article describing problems facing injured workers, Florida restricts an injured worker's ability to choose his own doctor, encourages insurance carriers to blame a pre-existing condition to avoid paying for work place injuries, and arbitrarily limits reduced wages paid to an injured worker to 104 weeks even if that worker hasn't recovered from his/her injuries.
Our firm has not forgotten the lessons learned from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. That is why we devote our practice to protecting the rights of those who have been injured on the job.